COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Tyrone Johnson scored a career-high 28 points to lead South Carolina to an 81-68 win over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
The Gamecocks (14-14, 5-11 Southeastern Conference) led for the final 37 minutes to break a two-game losing streak and climb into 11th place in the SEC.
Mississippi State trailed by four with 17 minutes to go, but Laimonas Chatkevicius hit seven of the next eight points to put South Carolina ahead 52-38 with 15 minutes left. The Gamecocks would lead by at least nine the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs (12-17, 5-11) shot 59 percent in the first half, but made just three of their first 12 field goals in the second half. Craig Sword led Mississippi State with 26 points.
Chatkevicius tied a career-high with 18 points and had nine rebounds for the Gamecocks.
Both teams still need at least one more win in their last two games to have a chance to avoid playing in the first day of the five-day SEC tournament since the league expanded to 14 teams in 2013.
South Carolina came into the game as the SEC's worst shooting team both overall and on 3-pointers. And the Gamecocks kept to form at the start, missing seven of their first eight from behind the arc.
But South Carolina then suddenly got hot, hitting six of its next seven 3s with the only miss being a 35-footer at the halftime buzzer.
Mississippi State shot 47.8 percent, compared with 46.3 percent for South Carolina. But the Gamecocks forced 12 turnovers and only gave up the ball seven times. They also had five more offensive rebounds than Mississippi State.
The only SEC game where South Carolina shot better was 50 percent in a loss to Auburn.
South Carolina: Third-year coach Frank Martin needs one more win in the last two SEC games to improve his win total each season with the Gamecocks ... South Carolina has not won more than five SEC games since 2010.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are 18-11 all-time against South Carolina. The only other SEC team they have a winning record over is Mississippi ... Five SEC wins are already the best for third-year Bulldogs coach Rick Ray.
Mississippi State travels to Vanderbilt on Wednesday
South Carolina hosts No. 18 Arkansas on Thursday.