The Ole Miss men’s basketball team closed out the 2017 calendar year and opened SEC play with a victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks inside the Pavilion.
Ole Miss (8-5, 1-0 SEC) rallied back from an early 15-6 deficit behind the play of seniors Deandre Burnett and Markell Crawford, who scored 18 and 17 points respectively. The Rebels had a total of three different players score in double-digits, as Bruce Stevens added 10 points of his own in the game.
“I think our effort has been tremendous,” Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy said. ”We’ve come back after Christmas and really put in work. You learn this as a coach – with certain teams, you do a lot more scouting than others. You only have so much time, and they only have so much energy. We’re figuring out, with this team, that it’s really about us.”
At the end of the first half, Ole Miss took a 31-30 advantage into the locker room.
“I told our guys at the half, it is hard to win SEC games. Everybody is trying to win,” Kennedy said. “You have to make SEC plays, and I thought we made some SEC plays to give ourselves a chance.”
South Carolina kept it close behind the play of Chris Sliva and Frank Booker, who both recorded 21 points in the contest. The Gamecocks were able to keep the scoring margin to a single possession game until the last minute of play.
“Chris Silva just whipped us inside,” Kennedy said.
Ole Miss shot 40.8 percent from the field and held USC to 37.9 percent from the floor. The Gamecocks out-rebounded the Rebels by a margin of 13, which helped them stay within striking distance until South Carolina had to send Ole Miss to the charity stripe.
“We only turned the ball over eight times in the second half tonight,” Kennedy said. “That allowed us to overcome some of our offensive inefficiencies. We are not shooting the ball from the perimeter as well as I would like. In the second half, 20 of 23 from the line was huge.”
Ole Miss returns to action on Wednesday as they travel to Georgia. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
Adam Brown is the sports editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Sign up to receive Hottytoddy.com morning and evening headline emails HERE!