No. 10 seed Mississippi State dominated No. 7 seed South Carolina throughout the game for a 73-51 victory Thursday night in the SEC Tournament at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
The Bulldogs (18-14) advance to the quarterfinal round to play No. 2 seed and ninth-ranked Tennessee (23-7) at 6 p.m. eastern on Friday on the SEC Network.
“We’ve got four games in four days,” said State forward Tolu Smith, who led the Bulldogs with 20 points and 12 rebounds. “We’re going back to the hotel and rest.”
Tennessee defeated Mississippi State, 72-63, in the regular season on Feb. 9.
“Tennessee’s a great rebounding team,” Smith said. “I feel like in this tournament, it’s all about rebounding and free throws.”
State outrebounded South Carolina (18-13) by 49-39 and hit 20 of 27 free throws to 11 of 19. Guard Iverson Molinar added 19 points for the Bulldogs. Guard Erik Stevenson scored 18 for the Gamecocks.
The SEC Tournament opens Friday with No. 1 seed/regular season champion and fourth-ranked Auburn (27-4) playing No. 8 seed Texas A&M (21-11), which defeated Florida in the first game on Thursday, 83-80, in overtime. Tip-off is at noon on ESPN.
No. 4 seed and 15th-ranked Arkansas (24-7) plays at approximately 2:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN against No. 5 seed LSU (22-10), which beat No. 12 seed Missouri, 76-68, in the second game Thursday.
No. 3 seed and fifth-ranked Kentucky (25-6) plays at approximately 8:30 p.m. Friday on the SEC Network against No. 11 seed Vanderbilt (17-15), which knocked off No. 6 seed Alabama (19-13) by 82-76 in the late game Thursday night.