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Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2003 12:32 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(23) Mississippi St 64, South Carolina 48
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
South Carolina Gamecocks
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MISSISSIPPI ST. BULLDOGS
Mississippi St. Bulldogs
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STARKVILLE, Mississippi (Ticker) -- Mississippi State's sloppiness was no match for South Carolina's inability to shoot.

Mario Austin scored eight of his 18 points in succession during the first half, leading 23rd-ranked Mississippi State to a 64-48 victory over South Carolina in an ugly Southeastern Conference matchup.

Timmy Bowers scored 15 points for the Bulldogs (11-4, 1-3 SEC West), who snapped a three-game losing streak while posting their first conference win of the season.

"We're very happy to get this first SEC win," coach Rick Stansbury said. "Everybody that follows our program knows what we've been through these first three games, in particular that last one."

The Bulldogs averaged 17 turnovers during their skid, which dropped them from No.7 in the country. They committed another 20 in their first SEC win of the year, but the Gamecocks shot just 27.5 percent from the field.

"We came into the game with our backs against the wall," Bowers said. "We knew that we had to come out and play tough tonight."

South Carolina (7-8, 1-4 East) also had 20 turnovers and only 14 field goals, managing a season low in points en route to its fourth straight loss.

"Certainly a great game for Mississippi State," Gamecocks coach Dave Odom said. "I thought they played very well. Defensively, they took us out of virtually everything we wanted to do."

Austin had only eight points in last week's 68-62 overtime loss to Alabama, but he matched that total in a four-possession span, making a pair of jumpers, a layup and a dunk during a personal 8-0 run that made it 21-10 with 6:24 left in the first half.

"I knew coming into the game that I was going to have to run because their big man doesn't run the floor very well," Austin said. "Running the floor is one thing I do well, so I was ready to run."

"He's a terrific player, he's a war horse," Odom said. "He doesn't wear down. He's a terrific center, one who's as good as there is in the league."

An All-American candidate, Austin went 13 minutes before taking his first shot. He finished 9-of-13 from the floor while the rest of the team went 15-of-36.

"It always concerns me when Mario Austin does not touch the ball," Stansbury said. "You've got to make some perimeter shots to keep people from helping and doubling on him all the time."

Bowers had six points during an 11-1 run that gave the team its biggest lead, 44-24, with 13:18 to play. Austin had the squad's first two baskets of the second half, during which it never led by fewer than 10.

Winsome Frazier scored 11 points and Michal Ignerski chipped in 10 for Mississippi State, which shot 49 percent from the field (24-of-49), hitting 5-of-12 3-point attempts. It made only 11-of-16 free throws and matched the Gamecocks' rebounding total (35).

Tony Kitchings and Chuck Eidson had 12 points apiece for South Carolina, which made 3-of-15 attempts from 3-point range and 17-of-25 foul shots.


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