Ole Miss Beats South Carolina to Earn Longest Active Win Streak in the SEC

0
85

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Ole Miss Athletics) – The reigning SEC Co-Player of the Week Devontae Shuler returned home and put on one of his best performances in a Rebel uniform Saturday evening. The Ole Miss Rebels (12-8, 7-6 SEC) held on late and earned their fourth straight victory, knocking off South Carolina (5-9, 3-7 SEC) 81-74 behind a career high 31 points (8 of 13 FG) for Irmo, South Carolina native Shuler.

“It means a lot,” Shuler said. “I’ve never had a win here. I just locked in because I knew this was my last game here and for my team and family in the stands. I did what I did to make them happy.”

- Advertisement -

Shuler’s career night was his seventh this season with 20+ points and included a season high seven rebounds. Romello White finished with 14 points (5 of 9 FG) and five boards, while KJ Buffenadded 12 points and four boards coming off the bench.

Ole Miss shot 50 percent (22 of 44) from the floor as a unit, the third consecutive game shooting 50 percent or over. The Rebels also scored a season high 34 points from the free throw line on 44 attempts, playing a key role at Colonial Life Arena.

Defense took center stage early on, as both teams struggled from beyond the arc with five consecutive misses. However, the Rebels found their points near the basket as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead and didn’t allow a single Gamecock bucket until there was 15:04 on the clock. The Rebels forced South Carolina to start 1-8 from the field heading into the first media timeout. The Gamecocks proceeded to find a few open looks and makes, but Ole Miss answered at the free throw line. Sammy Hunter’s layup and-one made it another six-point ball game with 11:59 remaining in the first half.

South Carolina responded with a 6-0 run of their own to tie the game after a brutally physical couple of minutes. A three-pointer from AJ Lawson gave South Carolina its first lead of the game, but Shuler immediately responded with a three of his own to go up 17-15 with 7:26 left in the half. After a back-and-forth three minutes, the Rebels used a 13-2 run to go up by 13 after a three-point bucket from Buffen. The Gamecocks scored five straight going into the locker room trailing Ole Miss 36-28.

The Rebels shot 48 percent (13 of 27) from the floor with 18 points coming from the paint (10) and the charity stripe (8 of 10). Defensively the Rebels forced South Carolina to shoot 37 percent (10 of 27) and commit 11 turnovers. Shuler already had 13 points (5 of 7 FG) with three assists while Buffen and White each had seven at the break, the latter with a team high four rebounds.

To begin the second half, the Rebels used a pair of three-point plays from White and Shuler with a transition dunk from Jarkel Joiner to go back up 13 four minutes in. However, with 14:49 left in the half, South Carolina already found itself in the bonus. Over the next four minutes and change, the Rebels maintained their double-digit advantage and Shuler’s three-pointer with 10:14 to go gave Ole Miss their largest lead of the game at 60-45. A free throw from Allen gave them at 16-point advantage a little over a minute later.

After later taking an 18-point lead, the Gamecocks went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 11 with 4:33 left to play while in the double bonus. Despite a late surge from South Carolina, the Rebels used the free throw line to hold on down the stretch and earn another SEC victory.

“Anytime you can win on the road in this league, it’s great,” Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said. “Our team showed a lot of poise. Really proud of our team.”

For the latest news and updates regarding Ole Miss Men’s Basketball, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissMBB, on Facebook at Ole Miss Men’s Basketball and on Instagram at olemissmbb.

TIP-INS

  • Ole Miss leads the series 22-20.
  • First win in Columbia since 2014.
  • Second four-game win streak in SEC play under Kermit Davis.
  • In his return to his home state, Devontae Shuler scored a career-high 31 points.
  • Shuler’s scoring output was the most by a Rebel this season.
  • It was the 10th consecutive game that Shuler reached double figures as well as his first 30-point game of his career.
  • Ole Miss knocked down a season-high 34 free throws, going 34 of 44 from the line.
  • The Rebels made at least 30 free for the first time since making 31 against Missouri four years ago (March 9, 2017).
  • KJ Buffen scored 12 off the bench, his most points since scoring 18 versus Wichita State (Jan. 2).
  • The Rebels had 11 steals, recording at least 10 steals for the seventh time this season.
  • With 3 steals, Luis Rodriguez produced his 13th multi-steal game of the season.