Kotsar’s senior night performance helps Carolina win MSU rematch

Kotsar’s senior night performance helps Carolina win MSU rematch
South Carolina senior Maik Kotsar battles inside against Mississippi State defenders. (Source: Ryan Bethea/TheBigSpur.com)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (TheBigSpur.com) - Two weeks ago, South Carolina lost a tough one on the road against Mississippi State.

Round two between the SEC foes was on Tuesday night and the Gamecocks bested the Bulldogs, 83-71, behind a 20-point senior night performance from Maik Kotsar.

While the first half was full of runs, there wasn't one bigger than Carolina’s 20-0 run after trailing 11-5 after four and a half minutes. The Bulldogs chipped away at an 18-point Gamecock lead and it was a two-point game at halftime.

In the second half, the Gamecocks quickly got the lead up to four points and the Bulldogs could not get it within four points the rest of the game. Carolina continued to sustain by 54.8 percent from the field in the second half.

Below is a two-MVP, four-quote, seven-game notes breakdown, recapping the Gamecocks’ 10th conference win of the season. If accessing this story from Plano’s Proving Grounds message board, please click the link below to read the entire story.

TWO MVPS

MAIK KOTSAR – An easy selection, not just because it was Senior Night at Colonial Life Arena. The veteran forward had a veteran like game. He was consistent with his usual 15-foot jumper and even had a couple dunks, one off an alley-oop. To go along with two rebounds, four assists and one steal, Kotsar scored 20 points on 9-of-22 shooting in what was his final regular season game at home.

JERMAINE COUISNARD – The redshirt freshman point guard was limited to nine minutes in the first half because of two fouls, but he did not let that stop him in the second half from registering a game high 10 assists along with eight points and five rebounds with no turnovers. He was on the court all 20 minutes in the second half.

FOUR QUOTES

“It meant a lot to first of all play the last game at CLA, to get the win and just to play at home with the guys one last time. It meant a lot. I want to thank the fans for coming out and showing love.” – Maik Kotsar on his senior night

“Hats off to South Carolina. They were phenomenal tonight. They are really a good team. You look at how much they’ve improved from November to now; you don’t want to play them. … I said in Starkville playing Frank’s teams is like getting a root canal, but that doesn’t really do it justice. Playing his team is like getting a dental implant. …. They are drilling right into your skull while you’re awake. That’s about what it’s like playing against his team.” – Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland

“That’s a compliment from Ben. The thing is his teams are so hard to play against because they are so physical and they don’t run away from contact. … I had all four of my wisdom teeth pulled at once. I developed a dry socket. It’s the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. That one got me. If playing us hurts that bad, we need to keep playing that way.” – South Carolina head coach Frank Martin

“I thought we were pretty good defensively the first 12 minutes or so in the first half and then we got in a little foul trouble at the guard spot and we missed some shots. If you score you hold the lead and you don’t leak oil as fast as we started leaking there in the first half. We built that lead and (Mississippi State) didn't flinch. We played probably as well as we’ve played offensively from a structural standpoint, today. That allowed our defense to set a lot. I thought we battled defensively today. I wish we would have battled like that a couple days ago.” – Martin

SEVEN BUZZER-BEATERS

1. Two weeks ago in Starkville the Bulldogs were sent to the free throw line for 36 attempts and made 28 of them while the Gamecocks were limited to 19 attempts with 14 makes. The discrepancy was a little smaller on Tuesday night, although the Bulldogs still had the significant edge by hitting 22-of-27 while the Gamecocks were 14-of-19 again.

2. He didn’t record his fourth straight double-double, but 12 points with seven rebounds and a block in 22 minutes played is a good performance for Gamecocks sophomore wing Keyshawn Bryant. Two ferocious dunks, one on each end of the court, got the home crowd into it. Bryant led the team in rebounds, continuing to up his game in that stat column.

3. South Carolina would have been hard pressed to pull out a victory on Tuesday night if it wasn’t for 31 points off the bench. Usual starter Alanzo Frink scored eight points off the pine because of Micaiah Henry’s senior night start. Jair Bolden made two threes and scored eight points in the first half. The trio of true freshmen – Trae Hannibal, Jalyn McCreary and Wildens Leveque – combined for 15 points and nine rebounds.

4. Both teams made five three-pointers after, just one more than the nine they combined for two weeks back in the first meeting. A stark difference in the box scores of those two games was MSU had 26 fast break points in Starkville, but only six in Columbia.

5. While Howland said postgame he considers Kotsar a All-SEC player, it’s likely his own forward, Reggie Perry, will get accolades of his own when conference awards are announced early next week. The sophomore had 17 rebounds and a game-high 16 rebounds, almost half of his team’s boards (38 total).

Perry picked up two fouls to get up to four before the midway point of the first half and the Gamecocks took advantage of his presence out of the paint. Twenty-two of Carolina’s 36 points in the paint came in the second half.

6. With the victory, South Carolina jumped ahead of Mississippi State in ESPN Joe Lunardi’s 9: 15 p.m. Bracketology update. The Gamecocks moved up a spot in the “Next Four Out” while the Bulldogs dropped five spots and out of the “First Four Out” to the last of eight bubble teams Lunardi lists.

7. UP NEXT: South Carolina will end its regular season in Nashville on Saturday against Vanderbilt before starting postseason play in Nashville in the SEC Tournament. The rematch with the Commodores on Saturday will be at 12:30 p.m. on the SEC Network. Carolina defeated Vanderbilt 90-64 in Columbia on Jan. 25.

South Carolina will enter the final game of the regular season no worse than sixth in the conference standings with a 10-7 league record. Carolina has had double-figure SEC wins in four of the last five seasons.

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