After digging a 20 point hole early in the second half, the South Carolina Gamecocks came up short in Oxford, falling 75-70. The defeat sends Carolina to 22-9 (12-6) and into fourth place of the final SEC standings. They finish behind Arkansas via tiebreaker.
It was a frustrating first half for the Gamecocks as Ole Miss scored 42 points. The Rebels started out hot from beyond the arc, hitting six first half three pointers. Breein Tyree led Ole Miss at the break with 13 while Sebastian Saiz had 12 and seven rebounds. Sindarius Thornwell kept the Gamecocks in it with 11 first half points while P.J. Dozier had only three points at the break, shooting 1-10 from the floor. Carolina went into the half down by 11.
Ole Miss started the second half on a 9-0 run to go up by 20. The Rebels would only score nine points in the next 10 minutes as the Gamecocks cut the lead to four with seven minutes left. Thornwell, Dozier and Hassani Gravett combined to score 23 of the Gamecocks first 25 points of the second half to cut into the lead.
After cutting the lead to four, the Gamecocks went on a scoring drought that lasted a little over three minutes. The Rebels carried a seven point lead into the final five minutes as Carolina appeared to be running out of gas. Saiz continued to enjoy his senior night as he stretched the lead to nine under four minutes remaining.
Chris Silva fouled out with 2:41 remaining as Ole Miss tried to put the game away from the foul line. The Gamecocks did not go away though as Duane Notice hit his first three before Thornwell stole an in-bounds pass and hit a pair of free throws with a minute remaining to cut the lead to four. But Saiz was not going to be denied on senior night as he quickly responded to put the Rebels back up six. After a stop and free throw by Ole Miss, Notice hit again to cut it to four with 25 seconds remaining. The Rebels got another point before stopping Carolina on the final possession to win by 5.
Thornwell finished with 25 points. He finished second in the SEC for scoring. He needed 26 tonight to top Kentucky’s Malik Monk for the scoring title. Dozier (13), Gravett (10) and Notice (10) were all in double figures. Thornwell and Dozier combined to shoot 10-34 from the floor, both shooting 5-17. The Gamecocks fired up 30 three pointers, hitting only nine.
Ole Miss was led by Saiz who signed off with 21 points and 15 rebounds on senior night. Tyree (19), Justas Furmanavicius (12) and Cullen Neal (11) were also in double figures. The Rebels relied on Furmanavicius at the charity strip as he hit 10 of their 19 free throws.
Next up for the Gamecocks is the SEC Tournament in Nashville. They are off until Friday as they’ll await the winner of Alabama against the winner of Mississippi State and LSU. The game will tip around 3 p.m. on Friday as it will follow the Noon game. It will be televised on the SEC Network.