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Perry's 21 points lead Mississippi St over S Carolina 76-61

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Reggie Perry fought through two defenders in the final minute to finish a layup and draw the foul, flexing his right bicep as he strolled toward the free throw line for his extra shot.

After weeks of up-and-down play, Mississippi State is finally playing consistent basketball. This time it was Perry's 21 points - including 17 in the second half - that helped spark Mississippi State to a 76-61 comeback victory over South Carolina on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs (20-7, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) have won four straight games and are now in prime position to break an NCAA Tournament drought that's lasted a decade. It's a team that's well aware of its postseason situation.

''We're talking about it every day,'' Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. ''There's no hiding from it. This was an important step toward that goal.''

Perry's 21 points tied a career high to help the Bulldogs rally from a 12-point deficit early in the second half. Quinndary Weatherspoon added 17 points and Lamar Peters had 11 points and nine assists. Weatherspoon has scored at least 10 points in 25 of 27 games this season.

Abdul Ado scored seven points and blocked six shots.

Peters said the Bulldogs stayed calm even when they fell behind.

''Don't get too frustrated because it only gets worse when you play mad,'' Peters said. ''When you're frustrated, you think of negativity. I just told the guys let's get out there and have fun.''

The Bulldogs split the season series against South Carolina after losing the first game 87-82 in overtime on Jan. 8.

South Carolina (14-13, 9-5) opened a 41-29 lead early in the second half, but Mississippi State quickly stormed back and went up 46-45 when Aric Holman threw down a dunk with 15:11 remaining. The Bulldogs never trailed during the final 13 minutes.

Perry, a 6-foot-10 freshman, shot 7 of 12 from the field and 7 of 7 on free throws. He added six rebounds. The McDonald's All-American has quickly turned into an indispensable part of the Bulldogs' offense, scoring in double figures in eight of his last nine games.

Mississippi State shot 65 percent from the field in the second half, slowly pulling away in the final minutes. South Carolina made just eight field goals in the second half.

A.J. Lawson led the Gamecocks with 18 points.

South Carolina dominated most of the first half, pushing to a 19-6 lead after Mississippi State made just one field goal during the first 11 minutes. The Gamecocks led 30-14 with four minutes remaining before halftime, but the Bulldogs closed the gap to 36-29 by the break.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin said Mississippi State's comeback was more about how well the Bulldogs played than anything the Gamecocks did poorly.

''They're real good,'' Martin said. ''They're as hard of team to play against as I've coached against this year because of what they do off the dribble.''

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: The Gamecocks' under-the-radar rally to get into NCAA Tournament consideration took a huge hit in Starkville. South Carolina looked great in the opening minutes, but couldn't match the offensive pace when Mississippi State went on its run.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs reached 20 wins for a second straight season. Mississippi State is down to a seven-man rotation because guard Nick Weatherspoon has been suspended the past three games for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The Bulldogs are making it work because all seven are providing big plays.

''Everyone is doing their job and what they have to do to help this team win,'' Howland said. ''It takes everybody.''

UP NEXT

South Carolina: Hosts Alabama on Tuesday.

Mississippi State: Hosts Missouri on Tuesday.

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Key Players
A. Lawson
00 G
Q. Weatherspoon
11 G
33.9 Min. Per Game 33.9
18.6 Pts. Per Game 18.6
2.6 Ast. Per Game 2.6
5.1 Reb. Per Game 5.1
41.7 Field Goal % 51.0
36.4 Three Point % 41.0
65.8 Free Throw % 82.6
  Bad pass turnover on A.J. Lawson, stolen by Reggie Perry 20.0
  Offensive rebound by Hassani Gravett 24.0
  A.J. Lawson missed dunk 26.0
  Offensive rebound by A.J. Lawson 26.0
  Hassani Gravett missed 3-pt. jump shot 28.0
+ 1 Reggie Perry made free throw 35.0
  Shooting foul on Felipe Haase 35.0
+ 2 Reggie Perry made layup, assist by Lamar Peters 33.0
  Defensive rebound by Tyson Carter 54.0
  A.J. Lawson missed 3-pt. jump shot 56.0
  30-second timeout called 1:07
Team Stats
Points 61 76
Field Goals 22-57 (38.6%) 25-50 (50.0%)
3-Pointers 9-21 (42.9%) 8-18 (44.4%)
Free Throws 8-16 (50.0%) 18-20 (90.0%)
Total Rebounds 32 33
Offensive 8 3
Defensive 16 23
Team 8 7
Assists 12 13
Steals 2 9
Blocks 6 10
Turnovers 15 13
Fouls 19 17
Technicals 0 0
18 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST
21 PTS, 6 REB, 1 AST
12T
away team logo South Carolina 14-13 362561
home team logo Miss. State 20-7 294776
Team Stats
away team logo South Carolina 14-13 72.7 PPG 40.2 RPG 12.9 APG
home team logo Miss. State 20-7 77.3 PPG 38.3 RPG 14.3 APG
Key Players
00
A. Lawson G 13.4 PPG 4.3 RPG 2.9 APG 41.1 FG%
1
R. Perry F 9.7 PPG 7.2 RPG 0.6 APG 50.2 FG%
Top Scorers
A. Lawson G 18 PTS 2 REB 2 AST
R. Perry F 21 PTS 6 REB 1 AST
38.6 FG% 50.0
42.9 3PT FG% 44.4
50.0 FT% 90.0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
A. Lawson 18 2 2 6/11 3/5 3/4 1 37 0 0 5 1 1
M. Kotsar 13 5 0 6/12 0/0 1/6 3 30 0 0 3 3 2
C. Silva 5 1 0 1/6 1/3 2/4 4 19 1 2 2 0 1
T. Campbell 3 4 7 1/6 1/4 0/0 2 30 0 0 2 1 3
K. Bryant 2 4 1 1/7 0/1 0/0 2 29 1 2 1 1 3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
A. Lawson 18 2 2 6/11 3/5 3/4 1 37 0 0 5 1 1
M. Kotsar 13 5 0 6/12 0/0 1/6 3 30 0 0 3 3 2
C. Silva 5 1 0 1/6 1/3 2/4 4 19 1 2 2 0 1
T. Campbell 3 4 7 1/6 1/4 0/0 2 30 0 0 2 1 3
K. Bryant 2 4 1 1/7 0/1 0/0 2 29 1 2 1 1 3
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
F. Haase 9 0 0 3/4 3/4 0/0 4 19 0 0 1 0 0
H. Gravett 6 5 2 2/7 0/3 2/2 3 25 0 0 1 1 4
A. Frink 5 3 0 2/4 1/1 0/0 0 11 0 2 0 1 2
E. Hinson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Bolden - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Cudd - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Minaya - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Moss - - - - - - - - - - - - -
N. Nelson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Couisnard - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Q. Borup - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 61 24 12 22/57 9/21 8/16 19 200 2 6 15 8 16
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
R. Perry 21 6 1 7/12 0/0 7/7 2 30 1 1 4 1 5
Q. Weatherspoon 17 2 0 6/11 2/5 3/3 2 36 1 0 3 0 2
L. Peters 11 3 9 2/6 2/5 5/7 3 34 3 0 3 0 3
T. Carter 9 4 1 3/8 3/6 0/0 0 34 3 1 0 0 4
A. Ado 7 4 1 2/4 0/0 3/3 5 27 0 6 1 1 3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
R. Perry 21 6 1 7/12 0/0 7/7 2 30 1 1 4 1 5
Q. Weatherspoon 17 2 0 6/11 2/5 3/3 2 36 1 0 3 0 2
L. Peters 11 3 9 2/6 2/5 5/7 3 34 3 0 3 0 3
T. Carter 9 4 1 3/8 3/6 0/0 0 34 3 1 0 0 4
A. Ado 7 4 1 2/4 0/0 3/3 5 27 0 6 1 1 3
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
A. Holman 9 3 1 4/6 1/2 0/0 2 21 1 0 0 0 3
R. Woodard II 2 4 0 1/3 0/0 0/0 3 18 0 2 2 1 3
J. Tshisumpa - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Datcher - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Clayton - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Feazell - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Gray - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Storm - - - - - - - - - - - - -
N. Weatherspoon - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Oduro - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Junkin - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Stewart - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 76 26 13 25/50 8/18 18/20 17 200 9 10 13 3 23