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Meechie Johnson, South Carolina too strong for Mississippi State

meechie-johnson,-south-carolina-too-strong-for-mississippi-state

Meechie Johnson scored 24 points as South Carolina defeated visiting Mississippi State 68-62 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams Saturday afternoon at Columbia, S.C.

Johnson also stole the ball on the perimeter with less than 10 seconds left when Mississippi State had a chance to tie or go ahead.

Myles Stute supplied 15 points and the Gamecocks (13-1) overcame 14 turnovers and 40.4-percent shooting from the field.

Mississippi State’s Tolu Smith, an All-SEC player from last season who was in his second game of this season following a preseason injury, racked up five of his 13 points on free throws. Josh Hubbard also scored 13 points and Shakeel Moore added 10 for the Bulldogs (11-3), who were 3-for-13 on 3-point attempts.

Johnson, who was in his second game back in action after sitting out a game with a sore knee, posted eight points in the final 3 1/2 minutes after the Bulldogs had closed within 57-54.

South Carolina’s B.J. Mack missed a pair of free throws with 49 seconds left, but the Bulldogs didn’t convert at the other end. Ta’Lon Cooper then made two foul shots to push the Gamecocks to a 64-58 edge with 38 seconds remaining.

But Hubbard’s four-point play at the 22-second mark created suspense. Cooper missed both free-throw attempts, but the Bulldogs didn’t get off a shot before Johnson came up with a steal.

South Carolina outscored Mississippi State 24-9 from beyond the 3-point arc. Johnson and Stute connected on three 3-pointers apiece.

Tied at 42-all, South Carolina scored the next nine points, with Johnson providing four of those. Before that, the second-half margin had never been more than four points.

Stute drained a 3-point shot in the final minute of the first half and South Carolina led 30-28 at the break. By then, five of the Gamecocks’ nine field goals were 3-pointers.

Mississippi State never trailed for the game’s first 18 minutes.

The Gamecocks got off to a horrid start, posting only six points through nearly 10 minutes. Later, they had six field goals and six turnovers, yet trailed only 22-20.

–Field Level Media

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