A buzzer beater closed the margin to one point, but South Carolina capped the opening night of the 2018 SEC Tournament with an 85-84 victory over Ole Miss. The Gamecocks move on to face the six seed, Arkansas, at approximately 9 p.m. ET Thursday.
The Gamecocks shot the ball well throughout the night and hit 12 three pointers (on 21 attempts) for a 57 percentage.
If not for runs late in both halves by the Rebels, South Carolina could have closed out the game with a comfortable margin. In the last three minutes of the game, Ole Miss held a 14-8 advantage and the Rebels cut a seven point margin down to two in the last four minutes of the first half.
It might say more about the struggles that Ole Miss has had over the second half of the season that this game should not have been this close. Despite their high shooting percentage from three, the Gamecocks struggled at the line. After hitting slightly over 70% of their free throws for the regular season, South Carolina slogged to only 55.9% Thursday night on 34 attempts.
Chris Silva and Frank Booker from South Carolina led all scorers with 21 points apiece. Silva did most of his damage at the line with 13 points from free throws (off 20 attempts) while only hitting four of his 14 shots from the floor. He added in 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Booker came off the bench and scored 13 of his points in the second half. 18 of Booker’s points came from behind the arc as he converted six of 12 three point attempts.
The 2017-2018 season comes to a resounding thud for Ole Miss. Despite being picked tenth in the preseason SEC Media Days poll, Ole Miss fans had some hopes for success in an SEC with no teams that were obvious preseason standouts. Instead, the Rebels wrapped up the regular season in last place in the conference, had their coach announce his planned resignation for the end of the season, actually step down a week later and lost 13 of their last 15 games. That long losing spell comes after the team had started 4-4 in SEC play.
Whatever coach takes the job in Oxford arrives to a full rebuilding job. While the facilities are decent with a new arena and practice facility that is less than a decade old, the roster that closed out the season with those losses featured five seniors. In a media opportunity after Andy Kennedy’s resignation, Thursday’s leading scorer Breein Tyree said that he would “keep his options open,” regarding the possibility of transferring.
South Carolina moves on to Thursday in the SEC Tournament to face Arkansas. The Gamecocks and Razorbacks met in Fayetteville on February 6 with Arkansas winning by 16 points.