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Game preview: Gamecocks open SEC Tournament play with Rebels

South Carolina gets another crack at Ole Miss on the first day of the league tournament.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 seed South Carolina (16-15, 7-11 SEC) vs. No. 14 seed Mississippi (12-19, 5-13)

Start time: 9:30 p.m. (give or take; it’s starting 30 minutes after the 7 p.m. game ends)

TV: SEC Network

Live stream: watchespn.com

Last game

The Gamecocks concluded their regular season with a tough 79-70 loss at No. 14 Auburn, with the Tigers clinching a share of the regular-season title. South Carolina had been in a tie for 10th in the SEC standings, but that result and others knocked them into the 11th spot — and, unfortunately, put them on the first day of the conference tournament. Frank Booker scored a career-high 27 points for South Carolina, and Chris Silva put up another double-double with his 19 points and 11 rebounds.

What to watch for

The Gamecocks met the Rebels way back at the beginning of conference play, falling 74-69 in Oxford when Ole Miss put together a late run and iced the game with free throws. Since then, things haven’t gone nearly as well for the Rebels. They notched just five SEC wins, and at one point went on a seven-game losing streak; entering the tournament, they’ve lost 10 of their past 11 games. Longtime coach Andy Kennedy also stepped down last month, adding to the turmoil. Ole Miss is led by Terance Davis’ 13.7 points per game and is sixth in scoring offense in the SEC (75.5 ppg), but also ranks last in scoring defense (77.9 ppg). The Gamecocks have a good chance to extend their stay in St. Louis, and they really need a win to solidify NIT hopes.