COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Charles Rhodes scored six of his 24 points in overtime as Mississippi State overcame its top player fouling out to defeat South Carolina 61-56 Saturday and extend its lead atop the Southeastern Conference Western Division.
The Gamecocks (12-14, 4-8) looked headed to the win after Evka Baniulis hit the second of two foul shots -- his first time at the line all year -- to give them a 50-47 with 6.1 seconds to go.But with 1.1 seconds left Baniulis fouled Ben Hansbrough on a 3-point shot. Hansbrough, a 76.7 percent foul shooter, hit all three to send the game into overtime.Just 13 seconds into the overtime the Bulldogs lost their leading scorer when Jamont Gordon was called for his fifth foul after charging into Mike Holmes.But it didn?t prevent Mississippi State from jumping out to a 55-50 lead with 3:05 remaining on a dunk by Charles Rhodes and a 3-pointer by Phil Turner, who had came into the game for the first time in place of Gordon.South Carolina pulled within 57-56 with 1:39 left but Rhodes followed his own miss 25 seconds later and Barry Stewart and Elgin Bailey each hit one of two free throws in the final 34.5 seconds to seal the victory.The Bulldogs (18-8, 9-3) are two games ahead of Arkansas in the West with four regular-season SEC games left.South Carolina led 21-20 after a first half in which both teams scored a season-low points and combined for just two more field goals (17) than turnovers (15). The Gamecocks shot just 28.6 percent, including three of 16 from 3-point range. Mississippi State hit 37.5 percent and missed all seven 3-pointers.After falling behind by five early in the second half, South Carolina went on an 11-0 run to go up 38-32 with 10:18 left on the second of two 3-pointers by Brandis Raley-Ross in just over 90 seconds.But the Bulldogs rallied behind Gordon, who scored on a three-point play and hit a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to give Mississippi State a 44-43 lead with 4:40 left.The Gamecocks regained the lead on a tip-in by Mike Holmes with 2:36 left to make it 45-44, but Rhodes scored on a three-point play 14 seconds later to give the Bulldogs back the lead at 47-45.After Holmes' follow tied it and Gordon was called for an offensive foul, Zam Fredrick hit the first of two free throws with 1:09 left. Then with 22.3 seconds left Gordon, a 70.8 free throw shooter, missed the front end of a 1-and-1.But Devan Downey, who led the Gamecocks with 19 points, hit only the first of two free throws with 17.6 seconds left to give South Carolina a 49-47 lead.Gordon then missed a 3-pointer and Rhodes' tip got stuck between the rim and the backboard with 9.4 seconds left, giving the Gamecocks the ball and setting up the final frantic seconds and overtime.