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Updated: Thursday, February 12, 2004 12:11 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(6) Mississippi St 79, (22) South Carolina 75 (ot)

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Timmy Bowers gave new life to Mississippi State, which capitalized with another road win.

Bowers forced overtime with a late 3-pointer and the sixth-ranked Bulldogs took advantage for a 79-75 Southeastern Conference victory over No. 22 South Carolina.

The Gamecocks (19-5, 6-4 SEC East) led throughout most of the second half, building a 66-54 bulge with just over five minutes left. But their poor play down the stretch left the door open for Bowers, whose shot with seven seconds to go forged a 71-71 tie.

"Timmy Bowers dribbled down and hit the big 3-pointer at the end," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "A big shot by a big player."

Mississippi State (29-1, 9-1 West) seized the lead for good, 76-75, when Branden Vincent made 1-of-2 at the line with just under a minute to go. South Carolina's Tarence Kinsey missed a 3-pointer on the next possession.

Freshman Gary Ervin made a pair of pressure free throws with 32 seconds to go for a three-point edge, and the Gamecocks' Rolando Howell missed on the other end. Lawrence Roberts made 1-of-2 at the line 13 seconds later for the final margin.

The Bulldogs improve to 9-0 on the road and extended their overall winning streak to seven games.

"I am extremely proud of our basketball team," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. "They came into a tough environment and played a good basketball team."

Two foul shots by Howell capped a 10-2 surge and gave the Gamecocks their 66-54 lead. But Shane Power and Winsome Frazier each had layups before Mississippi State converted a pair of turnovers into five points to get within 66-63 with 3:29 to go.

The Gamecocks had four turnovers in the final four minutes of the second half, although Howell's two free throws made it 71-68 with 11 seconds to go. But Bowers ran right down and fired up his 3-pointer to tie it.

"We made three turnovers in a row at one point," Odom said. "Why? I don't know the answer why. Maybe we came unglued at the end, I don't know. They turned the heat up and we didn't respond."

Roberts scored 20 points and Vincent collected 13 and a career-high 18 rebounds. The Bulldogs overcame a 7-of-24 performance from the arc and horrific 47 percent (16-of-34) foul shooting.

"We didn't shoot the ball very well and when we were down 12 points we battled back and forced overtime," Stansbury said. "We have a lot of weapons and unbelievable toughness."

Howell collected 24 points and a season-high 11 rebounds for the Gamecocks, who fell to 12-2 at home. South Carolina is 0-3 against ranked opponents.


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