COLUMBIA, SC Feb. 20, 2013 – Junior guard Eric Smith hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining and freshman forward Laimonas Chatkevicius blocked the final Ole Miss shot to give South Carolina (13-13, 3-10 SEC) a 63-62 conference win over Ole Miss (19-7, 8-5 SEC) at Colonial Life Arena on Wednesday night.
Freshman forward Michael Carrera notched his fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds, both were team-highs. In addition to hitting his first collegiate game-winner, Smith scored 12 and dished out five assists; both were highs in conference play this season. Junior guard Bruce Ellington had nine points on the night and Chatkevicius added seven points and seven boards. The Gamecocks only registered just 10 turnovers in the game, matching a season-low.
Senior forward Murphy Holloway scored a game-high 19 points and had 13 rebounds. Junior guard Marshall Henderson, the SEC’s leading scorer with 19.7 points per game, tallied 11 in the contest. Freshman guard Derrick Millinghaus also scored 11 on the night.
South Carolina shot 40 percent for the game, going 26-of-65 from the floor, including an 8-of-19 (42%) performance from behind the arc. Ole Miss shot 37.5% on 24-of-64 shooting. The visitors connected on eight of their 24 3-point attempts. The Rebels failed to connect on their last seven shots of the game.
The Gamecocks attempted a season-low eight free throws, connecting on three shots. The Rebels attempted just nine shots from the line, converting six.
It was just over two minutes into the game before Millinghaus connected on a 3-pointer for the first points of the contest. Smith scored the first South Carolina points on a lay-up. In the early portion of the game, Ole Miss stretched out to an early four-point lead and was able to maintain the cushion.
Down 17-13 after a Henderson lay-up, South Carolina rattled off seven quick points to claim the lead. Carrera put back his own miss to start the run. Ellington added a steal and lay-up followed by a 3-pointer to give the Gamecocks the 20-17 lead.
Ole Miss scored 10 unanswered points to grab the lead again. Holloway keyed the run, scoring seven-straight points. Junior guard Brenton Williams stopped the surge with a 3, making the score 23-27 with 6:45 to go.
Henderson drained a shot from behind the arc to give Ole Miss a seven-point lead at 32-25, but South Carolina rattled off six quick points. Carrera put back an Ellington miss and Williams contributed a lay-up and drew the foul. Williams missed the free throw, but Carrera fought for the rebound and muscled his way to a basket. After the run, the Gamecocks were down only one at 32-31 with 3:30 remaining.
Chatkevicius drained a 3 for the final basket of the half with 2:44 on the clock. The score gave the Gamecocks a 34-32 advantage. Holloway split a pair of free throws for the Rebels, and South Carolina carried a 34-33 upperhand into the break.
After not scoring in last weekend’s matchup at Alabama, Carrera led the Gamecocks in the first half with 10 points. Holloway led the Rebels with 10 points of his own at the break. The Gamecocks hit 14-of-36 from the floor (38.9%) while Ole Miss sank 44% of their shots on 12-of-27 shooting.
To open the half, the teams exchanged 3-point shots. The Rebels were able to knot the game at 37 on a Holloway free throw, but Carrera gave it right back to the Gamecocks on the next possession.
Up 41-39 after a lay-up from Smith, Henderson gave Ole Miss their first lead of the since the break on a 3 just before the first media timeout of the half.
With the score 54-49, the Gamecock advantage stood at five after a Smith 3-pointer, but Ole Miss went on a 11-0 run over the next 3:37 to regain the lead. Ellington stopped the spurt with a lay-up, making the score 60-56.
At the final media break, the Rebel lead was 62-56. Senior forward Lakeem Jackson made a free throw and Williams drained a 3 to pull South Carolina to within two at 62-60 with 2:01 on the clock.
Out of a Gamecock timeout, Ellington couldn’t connect on a shot and neither could Henderson on the other end for Ole Miss. Ellington missed a shot on the next Gamecock possession, but the ball found its way to Jackson and then to Smith who drained his second shot from beyond the arc with 27 seconds to go to put the Gamecocks up 63-62. Ole Miss called a timeout with 25.1 on the clock.
Out of the timeout, Henderson missed a 3-point attempt and the Rebels put Smith on the line for a one-and-one. The Gamecock could not connect on the front end, setting up Ole Miss for one last shot with :08 on the clock.
Jackson blocked the first Rebel attempt on their final possession, but Ole Miss had the chance to set up once again with .9 remaining. Henderson released a shot from the corner, but Chatkevicius got a hand on it to wrap up the 63-62 win.
On Saturday, the Gamecocks will continue SEC play as they face Georgia at 2 p.m. in Athens, Ga., with the television broadcast set for CBS Sports.