South Carolina’s James Reese V made the juke at the right time, Jermaine Couisnard’s pass to him from the far baseline was perfect, and Reese’s desperation halfcourt heave banked in as the buzzer sounded, lifting the Gamecocks to a 77-74 victory over Ole Miss at SJB Pavilion on Tuesday night.
The Rebels (12-14, 3-10) received 18-point efforts apiece out of Nysier Brooks, Jarkel Joiner and Matthew Murrell, with Joiner nailing a game-tying floater in regulation to send the game to overtime, but it was the stout defense of the Gamecocks (15-10, 6-7 SEC) that proved to be the difference in the game, with South Carolina forcing 18 Rebel turnovers and recording 12 steals in a hard-fought overtime victory. In total, there were 11 lead changes, seven ties, and lead time was nearly identical, with the Rebels leading for 20:12 and the Gamecocks 19:03.
“I thought we had the game in-hand for sure, but it was just the inability in our guard play to handle pressure while up in the game and our inability for ball security and getting shots at the goal,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “We had some breakdowns defensively, but still played well enough to win. It’s a tough loss, but credit to South Carolina. (Erik) Stevenson made a big three down by one that was kind of contested, and teams just seem to make those plays against us.”
Both teams saw struggles early on in the night offensively, with the Rebels and Gamecocks trading scoreless runs over the opening 9:29 of the game. However, South Carolina would quickly mount a seven-point lead on the Rebels, as the Gamecocks relied on the free throw shooting of Devin Carter to jump ahead with 5:31 remaining in the half.
The Rebels would bounce back immediately, with a pair of buckets by Sammy Hunter (four points, three rebounds, one assist) and a Matthew Murrell three (18 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, 8-of-8 FT), leveling the score just 1:23 later into the game. It was from here that Ole Miss controlled the remainder of the half, with Nysier Brooks (18 points, five rebounds, one block) and Luis Rodriguez (eight points, 13 rebounds, three steals, two assists) dunking their way to a 29-28 halftime Rebel lead.
Offensive woes would continue for the Rebels to open the second half, with Ole Miss only connecting on one field goal the opening 3:32 of the frame. Despite this, the Rebels would still find themselves on top, with free throws playing a pivotal role for Ole Miss on the night at 15-of-19 overall from the charity stripe – 9-of-11 in the second half.
The Rebels would bounce back from those shooting woes to go on a 7-1 run from 14:23 to 12:14, pushing Ole Miss up by eight. This run, fueled by back-to-back Brooks slam dunks, gave the Rebels a much-needed edge with time ticking down, but the Gamecocks continued to claw their way back into the fray.
Behind leading-scorer Erik Stevenson, who ended the night with 17 points and a 3-of-6 clip from beyond the arc, the Gamecocks inched their way back before finally tying things up at 65-65 with 1:24 to play following a Stevenson three-pointer. The Rebels would briefly hold the lead following a Luis Rodriguez free throw, but another three from Stevenson gave South Carolina a 68-66 edge with just 25 seconds remaining.
From here, Ole Miss turned to senior guard Jarkel Joiner (18 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal) to answer. Joiner, in just his fourth game back from a month-long back injury and while also dealing with a non-COVID illness on Tuesday, took command of the game, leaving just 1.7 seconds on the clock after a drive to the right and a floater found the net to knot the game 68-68.
Overtime would prove to be similar to the game that had transpired prior, with the lead swapping five times in the period before finally settling at 74-74. With less than a minute to play, Joiner could not connect on a contested go-ahead three, giving the Gamecocks the ball with two seconds left on their far baseline following a timeout.
Reese, who ended the night with nine points and just one three-pointer, made his only trifecta count. After a skillful juke during the inbounds process, Couisnard’s pass found him split between two Rebel defenders. Reese immediately let loose a halfcourt attempt for the win after hauling in the pass, which ultimately crashed into the backboard and down the net as the buzzer sounded for the 77-74 win over Ole Miss.
Beyond the Rebel trio of Brooks, Joiner and Murrell leading Ole Miss in scoring with 18, junior Luis Rodriguez would log a total of 13 rebounds on the night. This marks the fourth double-digit rebounding performance for Rodriguez this season, with each of those coming in the last five games, as well as the seventh double-digit rebounding game of his career.
The Rebels now return to the road to take on Georgia (6-19, 1-11 SEC) in Athens on Saturday afternoon. Tipoff against the Bulldogs is slated for noon CT on SEC Network.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports