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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ole Miss rallies past South Carolina

BLOGMarshall Henderson scored 21 points, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White added 15 and 11 points, respectively, and Ole Miss rallied from a 15-point deficit midway through in the second half to post a 75-71 victory over South Carolina at C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

Ole Miss (15-6, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) struggled to get stops for most of the day against the hot-shooting Gamecocks, who shot 47 percent from both the field and from 3-point range. South Carolina’s Brenton Williams went 5 of 8 from beyond the arc for 15 of his game-high 23 points while Sindarius Thornwell finished with 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting.

But the Rebels clamped down when they had to, limiting South Carolina (8-13, 1-7) to one field goal over a seven-minute stretch late in the second game to get themselves back in it. The Gamecocks led 61-46 with 10:53 left following a free throw from Thornwell, but Ole Miss went on a 21-5 run to regain the lead at 67-66 on Summers’ final 3 with four minutes remaining.

South Carolina led just once the rest of the way as Ole Miss built a five-point lead with 24 seconds left following back-to-back layups from Summers, who scored 10 of his points in the second half, and an old-fashioned three-point play from Aaron Jones. The strong finish helped the Rebels avoid what would’ve been their worst loss of the season.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited about what I just witnessed for about the last seven minutes. That was big-time basketball,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “You’re down 15 against a team that’s playing as well as they have all year, you’re on your heels and you made everything happen. You made it happen defensively, you made timely shots, you executed, you came up with loose balls and you made free throws. That was a tremendous effort for a group of guys that deserved it by the work they put in.”

South Carolina, which also got 11 points from Duane Notice and six points and 11 rebounds from Michael Carrera, didn’t have the look of a team tied for last in the SEC standings and an RPI hovering in the 120s at the beginning of the day. In addition to their hot shooting, the Gamecocks handled Ole Miss on the boards, 38-28, and outscored the Rebels 28-24 in the paint.

But South Carolina struggled to handle the Rebels’ defensive pressure, throwing the ball away against Ole Miss’ aggressive halfcourt trap to fuel the Rebels’ late comeback. Ole Miss forced 10 of South Carolina’s 18 turnovers in the final 20 minutes and ended the day with 23 total points off those turnovers.

“They were attacking us, attacking us and attacking us,” Kennedy said. “We finally got them frustrated a little bit in that press, and then from there, I thought they never really regained any rhythm.”

Ole Miss will travel to No. 11 Kentucky for its next game Tuesday night.

See Monday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from today’s game. (February 1, 2014)

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