Ole Miss men’s basketball used sharpshooting from deep and a timely second-half run at South Carolina to surge past the Gamecocks 70-58 on Tuesday night in Columbia, South Carolina, notching the Rebels’ first SEC win of the season and snapping a six-game losing streak overall.
Ole Miss (9-9, 1-5 SEC) — which came in averaging just 5.6 made 3-pointers per game on 28.8 percent shooting, both ranking 322nd or worse nationally — was sharp from deep at Colonial Life Arena, hitting 10 of 24. Junior guard Matthew Murrell led the way with 23 points, including five 3-pointers. Murrell scored 16 of his points in a second half where his team hit 50 percent of its shots. He was also second on the team with nine rebounds.
The Rebels held South Carolina (8-10, 1-4) to 36.7 percent shooting from the field in the game and outrebounded the Gamecocks 43-31. Sophomore guard James White scored five points in his first start of the season.
The Gamecocks opened the second half on a 6-0 run and cut the Rebels’ 10-point halftime lead all the way down to three. But Ole Miss responded with a 13-2 run, highlighted by a pair of Murrell 3-pointers.
“I mean this, we have had great looks this whole SEC (season). Matt Murrell, I consider him one of the best shooters in the league, and at one time he was 6 for 47 (from 3),” head coach Kermit Davis said. “ … Tonight he delivered, and that’s kind of the difference in our team. If we’d had some of those down the stretch when we’re in those close games, we’re not sitting here 1-and-whatever we are. But, it was good to see them go in.”
The Rebels jumped out to a 12-4 lead Tuesday night, with half of those points coming by way of 3s from White and freshman guard Amaree Abram.
Ole Miss made three 3s in the first nine minutes — the same total the Rebels had in the entire loss against Georgia — and five in the first half overall. The Rebels’ defense stifled the Gamecocks to close out the half, holding South Carolina to just two field goals over the final 12 minutes of action.
The Rebels led by 10 at halftime but struggled to begin the second half, allowing South Carolina to cut the lead to 32-29. A 10-0 Ole Miss run ensued shortly thereafter, however, a stretch where the Gamecocks were held scoreless for 5 minutes, 31 seconds. The Rebels also finished the game hot, making their last five shots from the field to seal the victory.
Ole Miss plays at Arkansas at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
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