- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Sindarius Thornwell ran off the court after South Carolina’s win over Mississippi State, the Gamecock fans chanting “M-V-P, M-V-P.”

South Carolina coach Frank Martin readily agrees, especially after watching Thornwell score 17 of his 22 points in the second half of the Gamecocks’ 63-57 victory Tuesday night.

“That’s why he’s the best player in this league,” Martin said.

Thornwell said that’s for others to decide come player of the year voting. He thinks Kentucky’s Malik Monk has had an exceptional year. Still, Thornwell would put his season up against anyone in the Southeastern Conference. “If I had control of if I’d get it, I would definitely vote myself,” he said. “But I don’t so all I can do is go out and play and keep leading my team.”

That’s what Thornwell did against Mississippi State. He helped the Gamecocks (22-8, 12-5 SEC) open a 10-point lead in the second half, then when the Bulldogs rallied to lead 52-50 with less than five minutes left, he marshalled South Carolina’s final charge.

Thornwell’s foul shots tied it up and fellow senior Duane Notice followed with the free throw that put South Carolina up to stay. Moments later, Thornwell won a loose ball scramble and passed it to Notice who hit a 3-pointer - Notice’s only basket - to extend South Carolina’s edge.

The Gamecocks won the second-most SEC games in their history and clinched one of the top four seeds for next week’s league tournament.

Mississippi State (14-15, 5-12), playing without injured leading scorer Quinndary Weatherspoon, erased a 10-point deficit midway through the half and took a 52-50 lead on Tyson Carter’s 3-pointer with 4:29 to go. But Thornwell tied things up with two foul shots before Notice’s go-ahead free throw.

Chris Silva had 15 points and 11 rebounds for South Carolina, his third double-double game this season.

Mississippi State lost its seventh straight and ninth in the past 10 games. Mario Kegler had 12 points and Carter 11 to lead the Bulldogs.

THE BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs played without Quinndary Weatherspoon, out with a ligament injury. He went through warmups before the settling for a seat on the bench. Mississippi State has struggled with the 16-point a game scorer in the lineup, but will likely have little chance of closing on a good note with Weatherspoon on the sideline. Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said he did not know when Weatherspoon could return. … It’s the fifth straight season the Bulldogs have double-digit losses in Southeastern Conference play.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks had high hopes for a quick start in the last regular-season home game for seniors Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice and Justin McKie. But the trio shot a combined 1 of 11 from the floor for seven points. Thornwell also saw his foul-shooting streak of 32 in a row end with a miss from the line right before halftime. … South Carolina’s cold start included missing their first 10 3-pointers until PJ Dozier broke the ice with his long-range basket.

NCAA HOPES

South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell said his team has not done enough work yet to feel good about its NCAA Tournament chances. He remembers all too well when the Gamecocks entered last Selection Sunday with 24 wins and felt good about getting in, but did not. “Our record was about the same last year or close, so we haven’t done enough,” he said. “We’ve still got games to play.”

FOUL DISPARITY

Mississippi State coach Ben Howland referred a couple of times to his team’s disparity in foul shooting. The Gamecocks made 25 of 34 attempts while the Bulldogs were just 10 of 12. Mississippi State was called for 26 fouls, nearly double South Carolina’s 14. “Granted we were fouling down the stretch with some purpose, but up to that point we were not,” he said.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State closes the regular season at home against LSU on Saturday night.

South Carolina finishes the regular season at Mississippi on Saturday night.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide