Mississippi tops South Carolina 75-71
OXFORD, Miss. (AP)
For about seven minutes, Mississippi played its best basketball of the season.
It couldn't have come at a better time.
Minutes away from a crushing defeat, Ole Miss rallied for one of its biggest wins of the season, beating South Carolina 75-71 on Saturday after erasing a 15-point deficit in the second half.
''That was big-time basketball,'' Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. ''You're down 15 against a team that's playing well and you're on your heels. Then you make everything happen. You make it happen defensively, you make timely shots, you execute, you come up with loose balls, you make free throws. That was a tremendous effort.''
Jarvis Summers was the catalyst in the comeback, making several clutch plays in the final minutes. He hit a 3-pointer with just under 4 minutes remaining that gave the Rebels a 67-66 lead - their first of the second half.
Then the 6-foot-3 guard hit an 18-foot jumper and a layup to keep the Rebels ahead in the tense final minutes. He also tipped away in the loose ball as the clock wound down, allowing Ole Miss to keep possession and hang on for the victory.
He finished 6 of 11 from the field and had eight assists.
''He's so clutch,'' Ole Miss forward LaDarius White said. ''He's always been like that - ever since I first met him in seventh grade. We played AAU ball together and we're like real brothers. I always tell him I believe in him.''
Marshall Henderson led the Rebels with 21 points and also had four steals. White scored 12 and Aaron Jones added 11. The Rebels (15-6, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) shot 44.1 percent (26 of 59) from the field.
South Carolina pushed ahead 61-46 with 10:53 remaining, but that's when Ole Miss started its methodical comeback.
South Carolina's Brenton Williams scored 23 points and Sindarius Thornwell added 18. The Gamecocks (8-13, 1-7) also lost to Ole Miss 75-74 on Feb. 1 in Columbia.
South Carolina lost six in a row to start SEC play, but broke through with an 80-52 victory over Texas A&M on Wednesday.
The Gamecocks started hot again on Saturday, shooting 56 percent in the first half to take 40-35 lead. Williams had 13 points in the first half.
And the good times continued in the second half - for a while. Williams made back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Gamecocks ahead 55-44 with 15:27 remaining and it looked like they might cruise.
It didn't happen. Ole Miss closed the game on a 29-10 run.
''We just got passive,'' South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. ''We had opportunities to attack and we didn't. Then we turned it over and we stopped guarding. It gave them life - easy baskets.''
The Rebels were fine for most of the day on offense, but struggled badly on the defensive end until the final minutes.
But the holes in the zone finally disappeared and South Carolina had to work for its shots. Ole Miss forced 18 turnovers and scored 23 points off of those.
''We grew up today,'' White said. ''I'm just speechless right now. I feel like if this had happened last year or the year before, we would have fell short, but this team has a bond that can't be broken. We stuck by each other.''
South Carolina shot 14 of 25 (56 percent) in the first half, but just 9 of 24 (37.5 percent) in the second half. Duane Notice added 11 points and four assists, but had eight turnovers.
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