COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Michael Carrera had a career high 34 points and 15 rebounds and South Carolina outlasted Mississippi State 84-74 on Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks (18-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from a weekend loss at Tennessee and used Carrera's stellar showing to avoid their first back-to-back losses this season.
Not that it was easy. The Bulldogs (8-11, 1-6) whittled a 14-point second-half deficit to 55-53 on I.J. Ready's 3-pointer with 9:13 to play. That's when Carrera fueled a 10-4 run with a 3-pointer, another basket and a three-point play to rebuild South Carolina's lead.
Carrera, a senior, made 10 of 16 field goals and 12 of 15 foul shots. He also had three of South Carolina's seven blocks.
Sindarius Thornwell added 15 points for South Carolina.
Ready had 20 points to lead the Bulldogs, who have lost six of their past seven.
Carrera surpassed his previous best of 23 points, set in 2013 against LSU. He also matched his top rebounding total of 15, accomplished during his freshman season against Milwaukee.
He was the first Gamecock player to scored 30 or more points since Brenton Williams got 32 against Missouri in January 2014.
South Carolina was looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss at Tennessee this past Saturday and avoid its first two-game losing streak of the season. The Bulldogs hoped to build on a strong showing to beat state rival Ole Miss last weekend.
The Gamecocks, though, shook off a sluggish first few minutes to open a 20-9 lead halfway through the opening period. They got a boost from revived scorer Thornwell, who had been 2-of-23 shooting his past two contests. In this one, he hit three shots in the opening half and his nine points at the break were more than the seven combined points he had at Ole Miss and Tennessee last week.
Mississippi State cut the double-digit lead to 37-32 in the last two minutes. But Thornwell hit a basket and Carrera had two jumpers to extend the Gamecocks' lead to 43-34 at the half.
South Carolina continued growing the lead, eventually moving in front 50-36 on Carrera's basket before Mississippi State's run.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had just 278 assists total in the 2014-15 season. Mississippi State is well on the way to surpassing that this year with 253 through 18 games. ... The Bulldogs had a season-best 12 blocks, their best single-game showing in five seasons.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are getting to the line more this season than last and are ranked sixth nationally with 29.3 attempts per game. They had 41 tries from the line against Mississippi State. They rank eighth in the SEC in foul shooting (67.5 percent).
Mississippi State plays at Missouri on Saturday night.
South Carolina takes on Alabama on Saturday night.