Mississippi State's Tolu Smith, right, pulls down a rebound in front of Missouri's Ronnie DeGray III, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Mississippi State vs South Carolina Preview

The Mississippi State Bulldogs (16-11) and the South Carolina Gamecocks (16-10) will meet at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia Wednesday. Tip off is at 6:30 p.m.

The two teams are tied with the LSU Tigers (19-8) for sixth place in the SEC. All three schools are 7-7 in conference play.

Coaching Matchup

Both Frank Martin and Ben Howland have found success during their careers in college basketball. Martin coached his 2016-17 South Carolina team to a Final Four appearance.  That season, Collegeinsider.com named Martin its Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year. Before arriving at South Carolina, Martin was also named the 2010 Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Mississippi State head coach Howland brings his own accolades with him, having won coaching awards at each of his last three stops. The 2002 Naismith College Coach of the Year captained UCLA to three straight Final Fours from 2006-2008. Howland was the 2002 Big East Coach of the Year at Pittsburgh and the 1997 Big Sky Coach of the Year at Northern Arizona.

Martin’s team has struggled since its Final Four appearance. The Gamecocks have not made the tournament since.

Meanwhile, Howland’s teams have made the tournament once during his tenure. The Bulldogs lost to Liberty in the Round of 64 in 2019. The team finished as the NIT runner-up last season, losing to the Memphis Tigers.

https://twitter.com/GamecockMBB/status/1496500400173764608?s=20&t=0A4mKhOQB-EB-VueM096Nw

Round Two for Mississippi State and South Carolina

Wednesday’s game will be the second meeting between the two teams of the season. The Bulldogs dominated the Feb. 1 matchup in Starkville, winning 78-64. Mississippi State’s largest lead in that game was 27 points.

The Bulldogs will hope for repeat performances from guard Iverson Molinar and forward Garrison Brooks. Molinar scored 20 points and Brooks added 18 during the game at Humphrey Coliseum.

Molinar is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18.3 points this season. Brooks’s  total from Feb. 1 tied a season high. The fifth-year senior is averaging 11.3 points this year.

The Gamecocks will look to James Reese V, the team’s third leading scorer, for help Wednesday. The senior guard is averaging 10.3 points this season. His performance against Mississippi State earlier this month bookended a three-game streak in which he scored 15 points or more. Reese was the team’s leading scorer on Feb. 1.

Both teams will watch LSU’s matchup against Kentucky (22-5) with eager eyes. An LSU loss would give Wednesday’s winner sole possession of the SEC’s sixth place spot.

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