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MBB: Gamecocks pull away from Rebels

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS MEN’S BASKETBALL

South Carolina pulled away in the final six minutes to beat Ole Miss 79-64

South Carolina had squandered an 11-point lead and Ole Miss had clawed back to tie the game at 61 with 6:15 to play. On the verge of letting a crucial conference game slip away, South Carolina got back to what it does best, playing defense and running the offense through its seniors.

Chris Silva drew a foul and made both free throws to reclaim the lead. After a Rebel miss, the Gamecocks went back to Silva. He drew a double team and kicked to Tre Campbell who passed to Hassani Gravett for a three. Another miss led to a layup by Silva, and then Gravett was fouled on a rebound, making both free throws. Breein Tyree made a pair of free throws to slow the 9-0 run, but the Silva drew another double, finding Felipe Haase for the open jumper. Gravett came up with a steal and then hit a three from the corner to give the Gamecocks their biggest lead of the game.

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Chris Gillespie

“Silva had his way in the stretch run,” Kermit Davis said. “We got it tied up and they made all the plays in the last five or six minutes.”

South Carolina finished the game by scoring 18 of the final 21 points, and had its biggest lead of the game at the end. Ole Miss did not make a single basket over the final 6:44 of the game.

“That’s probably the best forty minutes of defensive basketball we’ve played in a long time,” Frank Martin said. “When the second run happened we started screening, spacing, and attacking. We played a lot better from that frame of mind in the last five minutes of the game.”

The game could not have started much worse for South Carolina. Ole Miss made its first five shots and led 13-2 just four minutes into the game. Meanwhile, South Carolina missed 11 of its first 12 shots, including its first five free throws.

“We defended pretty consistently the whole game,” Martin said. “We missed some dinks and we missed some free throws and it’s 13-2 instead of 13-8.”

And then, like the flip of a switch, everything changed. Over the next ten minutes, South Carolina outscored Ole Miss 31-9 and at one point the Rebels missed 14 of 16 shots.

It began modestly, with a layup by Keyshawn Bryant. The Gamecocks missed their next four shots, with only a Campbell free throw thrown in. Then Silva took over. He scored on a jumper, and then stole the ball, setting up a transition three by Gravett. After a Rebel miss, Silva drew a double team and fed Alanzo Frink for an easy layup. Then he blocked a shot and hit the trail three to give the Gamecocks the lead. Gravett added another three for a 16-0 run.

Ole Miss was shell-shocked, and South Carolina continued to pour it on, building an 11-point lead. But South Carolina got a little sloppy at the end of the half, something that carried over. Gravett was called for a foul on Terence Davis shooting a three with 0.1 seconds left. Davis made two of the free throws to cut the deficit to eight at the break.

Silva led South Carolina with 18 points, four rebounds, three blocks, and two assists. Gravett finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. A.J. Lawson also had 15 points, tied his career-high with nine rebounds, and dished a team-high six assists. But it was his one-handed putback dunk in the first half that still has everyone talking.

Lawson crashed the offensive glass, grabbed the rebound and slammed it home with one hand. (By the way, he also drew the foul and made the free throw.)

“When I was in the air I saw the ball coming my way,” Lawson said. “I knew I had to catch it. Once I caught it I knew I was going to flush it.”

“If I had to rate it, I’d give it 11 out of 10,” Silva said. “That was big at the moment. It gives everybody on the team a boost and picks up the intensity.”

Notes:

Ole Miss used three timeouts in the first half, leaving it with just one for the entire second half. … Irmo native Devontae Shuler had a quiet game in his return to his home state. The sophomore, who chose Ole Miss over South Carolina and others, finished with six points and seven rebounds. … Bryant, who was called out by Martin after a couple bad games, responded with a better outing. He had 10 points and six rebounds and made both his free throws. “He was a lot more engaged,” Martin said. … Silva’s right wrist was wrapped in ice after the game, but he said “It’s good.” … South Carolina’s streak of games making at least 10 threes and shooting over 50 percent from behind the arc came to an end, just barely. It made 9-19 for 47.4 percent. … South Carolina was dismal from the free throw line, going 16-27. Silva was 6-6 and Gravett was 3-4. … Davis led Ole Miss with 18 points, and Tyree had 17. … Felipe Haase had five points and five rebounds, but Martin complimented him, saying it was the best effort Haase has had at South Carolina. … South Carolina outrebounded Ole Miss 46-38. … Announced attendance was 10,455. … South Carolina’s next game is Saturday at Mississippi State.

- South Carolina-Ole Miss box score

- What Frank Martin said after beating Ole Miss

- Kermit Davis: Gamecocks 'look like an NCAA Tournament team'