Jackson, Miss. (AP) – USC Upstate is starting to get used to knocking off teams from major conferences.
Ty Greene‘s 18-foot jumper with 6.3 seconds remaining pushed USC Upstate to a 53-51 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday, giving the program another marquee win less than three weeks after beating Georgia Tech.
“We try not to be cocky, but we are confident in ourselves,” Greene said. “This is a game we felt we could win.”
USC Upstate (9-4) controlled the game for most of the afternoon before falling behind 49-48 with 1:53 remaining after Trivante Bloodman made a contested layup.
But the Spartans didn’t panic, rallying to tie the game at 51 prior to Greene’s game-winning shot. The 6-foot-3 senior sprinted around a screen and slipped past a defender before elevating for a jumper that looked good from the moment it left his hand.
“I just tried to focus, stay relaxed and not get tight,” Greene said. “Lucky enough, it went in. We executed the play just like coach wanted us to.”
Damian Goodwin led USC Upstate with 14 points while Greene added 12. Spartans’ coach Eddie Payne said he was impressed his team kept its cool after losing the lead in the final minutes.
“Our guys kept their heads in the moment and got ready for the next play,” Payne said. “And when that happens you’ve got a chance to win.”
Mississippi State (5-5) has lost five games in a row. The Bulldogs had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but a running jumper by I.J. Ready missed badly.
It’s been an ugly stretch for the Bulldogs, who have also lost to TCU, Tulane, Oregon State and Arkansas State during their skid.
Roquez Johnson led the Bulldogs with 15 points and nine rebounds. Mississippi State shot just 17 of 44 from the field (38.6 percent), including 1 of 15 (6.7 percent) from 3-point range.
The Spartans came into the game with plenty of experience playing teams from major conferences. Along with the 59-54 win over Georgia Tech on Dec. 6, they also played competitive road games against Maryland and Memphis.
This game was played in front of just 1,102 people at the Mississippi Coliseum. The Bulldogs usually play once in Jackson every year to try and give fans in the capital city an easy non-conference game to attend instead of making the two-hour drive to Starkville.
Mississippi State struggled to generate any offense for a fifth straight game. The Bulldogs haven’t topped 55 points since beating St. Louis 75-50 on Nov. 28.
Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said he was disappointed in the result, but pleased that the team’s defense and intensity had improved. He said the offense continues to be a work in progress.
“That’s not something we can change overnight, so we can’t focus on that,” Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said. “We focus on the things we can change, and that’s our effort.”