Ole Miss set to face USC in SEC Tournament
The entire Ole Miss team was in attendance Wednesday night and watched as the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated a single-digit win Missouri team 63-54 in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.
The Gamecocks, led by Sindarius Thornwell, who scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, forced Mizzou into 15 turnovers and 36 percent overall shooting from the field. The Rebels are the next team to get a shot at the Gamecocks.
Ole Miss (20-11, 11-7 SEC) certainly knows what’s at stake Thursday night: a trip to the NCAA tournament.
The Rebels are 5-5 in SEC Tournament games in Nashville. The last time Ole Miss staked its claim to an SEC championship was in 2013, when the Rebels defeated then-No. 1 seeded Florida 66-63 to capture the SEC title inside Bridgestone Arena.
Sharp-shooting, Gator-chomping Marshall Henderson was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament that season after scoring 71 points in three games. One of his most memorable moments of the tournament came against Missouri in the quarterfinal round, where he scored 27 points to lead Ole Miss past the Tigers 64-62.
During Henderson’s time there and afterwards, the Rebels have won three-consecutive SEC Tournament games, and four out of their last five in Nashville. Coach Andy Kennedy is 8-7 in the SEC Tournament at Ole Miss and has led the Rebels to three-straight semifinal games.
Facing the Gamecocks
Ole Miss is 18-15 all-time against South Carolina (15-15, 6-12 SEC) and defeated the Gamecocks 65-49 at home this season, led by senior guard Jarvis Summers, who scored a team-high 20 points. Stefan Moody and Sebastian Saiz finished with 16 and 10, respectively.
The Rebels have won their last four meetings over South Carolina and hold a 4-3 record against the Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament, including a 66-55 victory in 2011. In his coaching career, coach Andy Kennedy is 6-6 all-time against South Carolina.
In order for Ole Miss to advance to the semifinal round, Moody and Summers will have to play well for the entire 40 minutes. Moody is at the top of the SEC in scoring (18.6 ppg) and steals (2 spg). The junior guard also ranks fourth in 3-pointers made at 2.4 per game. Summers leads the SEC in assists (5.3) and has recorded 86 assists in his last 15 games.
Despite finishing the regular season with an overall record of 15-15, including a 6-12 conference record, the Gamecocks are no pushover with Sindarius Thornwell and Duance Notice in their backcourt. For the season, Notice is averaging a team-best 11.4 points per game and Thornwell is right behind Notice averaging 11 points per game.
In South Carolina’s first round win over Missouri, Thornwell shot 5-of-9 from the floor-including a 4-of-7 effort from the 3-point line. Ole Miss’ zone defense will have to keep Thornwell off the 3-point line and keep a hand in his face at all times to prevent another solid shooting effort from the Oak Hill Academy product.
Michael Carrera, who is averaging 6.6 points and a team-best 5.6 rebounds per contest, is another player who can give the Gamecocks some points when called upon to do so. Playing with four fouls Wednesday night, Carrera scored 12 points off the bench against the Tigers.
Where to watch the game
Television: SEC Network, Dave Neal (play-by-play), Darrin Horn (analyst), Kaylee Hartung (sideline).
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network, David Kellum (play-by-play), Keith Carter (analyst).
Satellite Radio: Sirius 93, XM 190
Live Video: WatchESPN.com
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.