There were two bright spots for South Carolina on Saturday night, according to coach Darrin Horn: freshmen Lakeem Jackson and Ramon Galloway, whom Horn said "didn't bring us any negatives."
Jackson continued to be more assertive on offense, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds. Galloway, after being benched at Kentucky, came off the bench to score 14 on Saturday.
"You can't say enough good things bout how our two freshmen are playing right now," Horn said. "And Stephen Spinella was solid tonight but obviously didn't have the production that the other two did."
Two veterans saw no playing time.
Horn said the decision to keep senior Evka Baniulis and junior Austin Steed had to do with competing with Mississippi State smaller and more athletic lineup.
"That's an issue obviously for Austin, athletically, every game has been an issue for him," Horn said. "And with Evka, going with the young guys that have shown a bit more, in terms of getting some other stuff done even if they're not making shots."
They're No. 1
MSU clinched the top seed in the East, which they were predicted to do in the preseason, but it took a late-season run.
"This ain't the team that was picked to win it," Stansbury said, citing four players, including top recruit Renardo Sidney, who are out. "For these guys to hang together and put themselves in position to win another championship, they deserve a lot of credit."
- Seth Emerson