GAME NOTES: The South Carolina Gamecocks try to put an end to their season- long, six game losing streak on Wednesday night, as they host the Ole Miss Rebels in SEC action at Colonial Life Arena.
Ole Miss appeared to be one of the SEC front runners early as it started 6-0 in conference action, but from there it slipped in the standings with losses in four of its next five. The Rebels got back on track last Saturday however, piecing together a late rally against Georgia to force overtime and eventually win, 84-74, to improve to 19-6 and 8-4 in the SEC.
South Carolina's awful play in conference (2-10) has all but negated its stellar run in non-league action (10-3). With the Gamecocks' 68-58 loss at Alabama on Saturday, they slipped below .500 overall (12-13) for the first time this season.
Ole Miss holds a 15-14 advantage over South Carolina in the all-time series, which includes wins in two straight matchups, but the Gamecocks have won nine of 10 bouts in Columbia.
The Rebels trailed Georgia by eight points with under seven minutes to play, but they managed to rally and force overtime, where they outscored the Bulldogs, 14-4, to secure the win. It was a poor shooting night for Ole Miss (.381), but it cashed in at the foul line (30-of-36). Marshall Henderson sparked the comeback, netting 14 points over the final 3:36 of regulation and finishing with 25 points thanks in part to a perfect 14-of-14 night from the foul line. Murphy Holloway added 14 points, Reginald Buckner tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds, and LaDarius White and Jarvis Summers each scored 12 points off the bench. On the season, Ole Miss ranks fifth in the nation in scoring with 79.5 ppg, and it is led by the SEC's top scorer in Henderson. The junior guard pours in 19.7 ppg due mostly to his prowess from 3-point range (94- of-266, .353) and the free-throw line (118-of-135, .874). The Rebels are also strong in the paint, with Holloway (14.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and Buckner (9.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.7 bpg) making up one of the most imposing forward duos in the country.
South Carolina scored the first two points of its latest game against Alabama, but that was the only lead it would hold, as the Crimson Tide proceeded to rip off a 32-7 run and the Gamecocks were never again within single-digits. It wasn't a terrible night shooting for the Gamecocks, and they shot 45.1 percent from the field with Brenton Williams (14 points), Laminas Chatkevicius (11 points), Bruce Ellington (11 points) and Eric Smith (10 points) all netting in double figures, but they were plagued by an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers. South Carolina's scoring offense has been solid (66.9 ppg), but it has vastly under performed during its current six-game slide (52.0 ppg). Michael Carrera is both the team's top scorer (10.4 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 rpg), and the freshman has put together impressive percentages from the floor (.473) and the foul line (.753). Williams (10.1 ppg) is the top scoring threat out on the perimeter, with Ellington (9.9 ppg), Lakeem Jackson (8.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Brian Richardson (8.3 ppg) also serving as regular contributors.
Even though South Carolina boasts a home record above .500 for the season (8-7), it has lost five of six bouts at Colonial Life Arena against SEC foes. Ole Miss isn't playing its best basketball at the moment, but it still has enough talent to blow past the sluggish Gamecocks in this one.
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