OXFORD, Miss. – Any time Ole Miss plays South Carolina, one can always expect a tough, physical game on both ends from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Sunday’s New Year’s Eve game was no exception in this SEC rivalry.
The teams went back and forth in the second half, but it was Ole Miss (8-5, 1-0 SEC) who came out on top, outscoring the Gamecocks 26-20 in the final 10:10 to walk away with the 74-69 win over USC. The victory is the first in league play for the Rebels in what was the SEC opener for both programs.
(Click here for box score.)
Ole Miss, now 14-12 all-time against the Gamecocks (9-4, 0-1), improves to 8-9 against South Carolina under Rebels’ head coach Andy Kennedy.
“I’m real happy for AK and his guys,” USC head coach Frank Martin said about the Rebels, whose bench outscored their counterparts, 28-18.
“They played the way I expected them to play, defending their home court.”
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin on the Rebels
Ole Miss held it’s largest lead of the game, 61-55, with 6:23 left; however, the Gamecocks battled back to get within three on multiple possessions. They were unable to get any closer. Ole Miss held off USC by making shots from the free throw line, hitting 10 of 11 shots from the charity stripe down the stretch–and 20 of 23 in the second half.
Ole Miss made a total of 26 of 33 shots from the foul line, led by Deandre Burnett who hit 9 of 14 free throws.
“It was a huge win,” Markel Crawford said after the game. “Shout out to Rebel Nation.”
Rebels battle in close first half
Crawford, who finished with 17 points, scored the team’s first six, but in the early going the Rebels couldn’t find many points outside of those from the Memphis native. Ole Miss went 5:38 without a score, until Bruce Stevens drained a 15-footer. From there, the Rebels found some stability that allowed them to remain close with a tough USC team that came in winners of four of its last five games.
Ole Miss wouldn’t take the lead in the game until Burnett drained his first 3 of the game to make the score 20-18. The Gamecocks regained the lead for a short moment, however, with David Beatty’s jumper, followed by a 3 from Booker.
Breein Tyree’s bank-in jumper then put the Rebels back up, 28-27. Justas Furmanvicius’ free throw plus Crawford’s jumper gave Ole Miss a 31-30 lead at intermission.
South Carolina’s Chris Silva finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Frank Booker tallied 21, making 6 of 10 shots from 3-point range in 33 minutes.
Both teams made 10 of 28 shots from the field in the first half, with the Gamecocks holding a 24-16 advantage in rebounds. South Carolina out-rebounded the Rebels, 43-30 for the game.
Ole Miss scoring summary
Deandre Burnett led the Rebels with 18 points, and Crawford finished with 17. Bruce Stevens added 10, while Hymon and Breein Tyree each finished with 10. Devontae Shuler scored six, and Justas Furmanavicius and Terence Davis added 5 and 4, respectively.
Sunday marked the second-consecutive game Crawford has scored in double figures. This is also the second time this season he has had back-to-back games of scoring in double figures. His previous season-high was 16, which came against Sam Houston State on Dec. 13.
Marcanvis Hymon leads a second-half surge with seven straight
In the second half, Marcanvis Hymon scored seven straight points to begin Ole Miss’ scoring surge. Three of his points came as the result of a made basket and free throw as he was fouled on the shot, while the other four points were the results of alley-oop dunks off of assists from Terence Davis.
“In the second half, KG (Marcanvis Hymon) did a really good job of moving behind it,” Kennedy said of Hymon’s offensive effort against South Carolina’s zone defense. “He got a couple of dunks and kind of woke up for us, allowing us to play more in the second half.”
Kennedy was pleased with his team’s effort in the game.
“I think our effort has been tremendous. We’ve come back after Christmas and really put in work.“
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy
Ole Miss: Burnett came in Sunday’s game averaging 4.8 assists per game. Against USC, he recorded six. Hymon had a huge block on South Carolina’s Maik Kotsar in the second half, and he is now tied with Justin Reed for 10th on the Rebels’ all-time career blocks list with 89. The Rebels and the Gamecocks opened up conference play against one another for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
USC: Redshirt junior guard Hassani Gravett missed Sunday’s game with a right ankle injury. He had started the first 12 games for the Gamecocks at point guard, averaging 8.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game.
Ole Miss travels to Athens to take on Georgia on Wednesday (5:30 p.m., SECN), and South Carolina hosts Missouri on Wednesday (9 p.m., ESPN2).