USC Comes Up Short At Ole Miss 75-71

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By USC SID

OXFORD, Miss. (USC SID) -- South Carolina (8-13, 1-7 SEC) held a double-digit lead through the majority of the second half, but Ole Miss (15-6, 6-2 SEC) was able to overcome the deficit late to defeat the Gamecocks 75-71 on Saturday in Oxford.

South Carolina senior guard Brenton Williams paced the Gamecocks with a game-high 23 points, while freshman guards Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice added 18 and 11 points, respectively. Thornwell added a season high six assists and Notice collected four. Sophomore guard Michael Carrera led the Gamecocks with 11 rebounds.

The Gamecocks shot 46.9 percent (23-49) in the game, but hit just 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) in the second half. South Carolina out-rebounded the Rebels 38-28.

Ole Miss held as much as an eight-point lead early, but Carolina chipped away at the Rebel advantage and Williams' third 3 in the opening nine minutes of play gave the Gamecocks a 19-18 upperhand with 11:39 remaining in the opening half.

Both teams struggled to find the basket through the middle portion of the half, and the score stood at 23-21 Ole Miss at the under-eight minute media timeout. Out of the break, Williams reached double-figures, as the national leader in free throw percentage knocked down a pair from the line to tie the game with 7:55 remaining before the break.

Marshall Henderson hit a floater from the corner for the Rebels with four minutes remaining on the clock, but Notice continued a stellar half of basketball, taking the possession coast-to-coast and notching the lay-in and Ole Miss foul for a chance at a 3-point play out of the media timeout. Notice missed the opportunity at the line, but Carrera was there for the tip-in and Carolina took a 33-31 advantage.

The Gamecock lead continued to grow, and a jumper from Carrera capped a 9-0 Carolina run and put the advantage at 38-31 with just shy of two minutes to play in the half.

South Carolina took a five-point lead into the break after the teams traded makes at the free throw line, before Henderson capitalized on a Gamecock turnover with under 10 seconds to play and broke a four-minute rebel scoring drought to put the score at 40-35.

South Carolina scored 16 points in the paint in the first half, and out-rebounded the Rebels 17-12. The Gamecocks hit 56.0 percent (14-25) in the first half and the Rebels 14-of-28 (50.0 percent), with both South Carolina's Williams and Ole Miss' Henderson leading the way with 13 points in the opening stanza.

Both teams pushed offense in the opening two minutes of the second half, as the Gamecocks scored seven quick points out of the break behind two three-point plays from Thornwell, but the Rebels made a push of their own behind 3s from Anthony Perez and Henderson to put the score at 47-42 Carolina with 17:50 to play.

Williams hit his fourth 3 of the game with 16 to minutes on the clock, the fourth straight game that the senior has hit at least four 3s in the contest, and he added another 30 seconds later, which saw Carolina take its biggest lead of the afternoon to that point at 55-44 with 15:37 remaining, forcing an Ole Miss timeout.

South Carolina continued to build its lead, behind a jumper from sophomore forward Laimonas Chatkevicius and a pair of free throws from Thornwell. Ole Miss' Jarvis Summers connected for a lay-in at the 9:50 mark and the Gamecock lead was 11, 61-50.

Dwight Coleby's lay-in pulled the Rebels within seven with 8:24 to play, but Thornwell hit a huge 3 for Carolina to put the lead back to 10 seconds later. Ole Miss continued to battle, however, and White hit a put-back lay-in to pull the home team within eight at 64-56 with 7:43 to play, and the Rebels called a timeout.

Notice took a charge underneath the Ole Miss basket near the seven-minute mark, followed up with a steal with six minutes to play, which resulted in a make from the free throw line, keeping the Gamecock lead at nine points, 66-57.

On the ensuing Ole Miss possession, Henderson was fouled on a 3-point attempt, and he hit all three from the line to pull the Rebels within six points.

South Carolina was forced to call a timeout with 4:57 to play after the lead was drawn to just four points at 66-62 after two Rebel free throws.

Ole Miss forced a Gamecock turnover in the midcourt out of the break, and the Rebels capped a 7-0 run with a lay-in from LaDarius White with 4:51 to play. Summers sank a 3 at the four-minute mark and Ole Miss took a one-point lead at 67-66.

Williams hit two from the line, and Summers hit a long jumper from just inside the 3-point arc to maintain a one-point Rebel lead at 69-68 with 2:19 to play.

Summers added two more points for Ole Miss with 1:32 remaining to push the lead to three, and Carrera hit one from the line with under a minute to play to put the score at 71-69 Rebels.

Ole Miss held the ball near midcourt long into the shot clock on the ensuing possession, and Summers couldn't connect, but Aaron Jones hit a lay-in and was fouled. He converted at the line, and the Ole Miss lead was five at 74-69 with 24 seconds remaining.

Sophomore forward Mindaugas Kacinas had a tip-in with 18 seconds remaining on a 3-point attempt from Williams, but Summers hit one of two attempts from the line with seven seconds to play and Carolina missed a 3 attempt at the buzzer, as Ole Miss posted the 75-71 victory.

South Carolina continues SEC play when it hosts Auburn on Wednesday, Feb. 5. That contest will tip at 7:30 p.m. ET at Colonial Life Arena and will be broadcast on ESPN3.

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