Late Defense Leads South Carolina to, 79-64, Win Over Ole Miss

Late Defense Leads South Carolina to, 79-64, Win Over Ole Miss
(Source: South Carolina Athletics)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina keeps digging a hole and then the Gamecocks keep finding a way to pull themselves out.

South Carolina (14-12, 9-4 Southeastern Conference) won its fifth SEC game after trailing by double digits, beating Mississippi 79-64 on Tuesday night.

The Gamecocks seem like they have been in a hole all year. They started the season 5-8 in nonconference, including losses to Stony Brook and 6-19 Wyoming. They have been down by at least 10 in nine of their 13 SEC games. And now they are fourth in a league with three teams in the top 13.

''They are taking me on an unbelievable ride,'' South Carolina coach Frank Martin said.

Tuesday's ride for Martin started with the Rebels (18-8, 8-5) hitting their first five shots and taking a 13-2 lead less than four minutes in. The Gamecocks answered with 16 straight points, took their own 11-point lead before the half was over and never trailed again.

Ole Miss did tie it at 61 with 6:18 left. But South Carolina scored on its next six possessions to put it away.

Chris Silva led the Gamecocks with 18 points, including four points and an assist in that final push.

''Silva just kind of had his way during that last run,'' Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said.

Terence Davis had 18 points and Breein Tyree added 17 points for Ole Miss.

A.J. Lawson had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists and Hassani Gravett added 15 points and eight rebounds for South Carolina.

The win put the Gamecocks into fourth place in the SEC all by themselves, which could be critical for a team that might not want to lean on an unorthodox bubble resume. The top four teams get a double bye in the SEC Tournament and only need to win three games to get the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. South Carolina leads every other team by at least two games and now will have the tiebreaker over Ole Miss.

KEY STATS

> South Carolina's defense held Ole Miss without a field goal the final 6:44 after Breein Tyree made a jumper In the lane to pull the Rebels within a basket, 61-60.

> After trailing 13-2 to start the game, the Gamecocks took control with a 38-19 run to end the first half.

NOTABLES

> Senior forward Chris Silva had 18 points to lead the Gamecocks - he's had 15 or more in eight of the team's last nine games. The Libreville, Gabon, native, went 6-of-6 at the FT line tonight and has made 16-straight at the charity stripe dating back to the first half at No. 1 Tennessee (1/29/19).

> In SEC play, Silva is 64-for-111 (57.7%) from the field and 72-of-89 (80.9%) at the FT line, both career highs. He also had three more blocks tonight and now has 54 during the 2018-19 season, a new career-high.

> Freshman guard A.J. Lawson continued his standout play with 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and just one turnover in 37 minutes of action.

> Redshirt senior guard Hassani Gravett remained hot from behind the 3-point line, hitting four of his six attempts from deep en route to scoring 15 points off the bench. He's shooting 49.3 percent (33-for-67) from 3 in league action.

> The Gamecocks are 9-1 in SEC games when Gravett scores 10 or more points.

> After two tough outings, freshman wing Keyshawn Bryant bounced back with 10 points and six rebounds tonight.

> South Carolina went 9-for-19 (47.4 percent) from 3 tonight. In the team's last four wins, the Gamecocks are 46-for-81 (56.8 percent) from downtown, averaging 11.5 made 3s per game.

UP NEXT

The Gamecocks hit the road for a Saturday night matchup at Mississippi State. Tip time in Starkville is set for 6 p.m. ET on the SEC Network with Mike Morgan (pxp) and Pat Bradley (analyst) on the call. Carolina posted an, 87-82, overtime win over the 14th-ranked Bulldogs on Jan. 8 in Columbia.