March 13, 2015
|GAMECOCK MEN’S BASKETBALL|
|South Carolina (17-15, 6-12 SEC)||27||33||60|
|Ole Miss (20-12, 11-7 SEC)||24||34||58|
|Michael Carrera, Tyrone Johnson and Coach Martin|
|Ole Miss Post-Game Press Conference|
NASHVILLE, TENN. – It was a finish few Gamecock fans will ever forget, as a trio of Tyrone Johnson free throws with seven-tenths of a second remaining in regulation gave Carolina a 60-58 win over Ole Miss Thursday night in the second round of the SEC Tournament.
Mere seconds after the win was seemingly snatched away by a clutch four-point play by Jarvis Summers, Johnson was fouled just over half court while attempting what would have been a buzzer-beating heave. The senior guard, despite sitting with foul trouble down the home stretch, coolly sank all three attempts to steal a major upset and punch a ticket to the quarterfinal round.
While Johnson’s dead-eye performance will be the headline across the country, it was also the effort of Michael Carrera (16 points) and Duane Notice (15) that would carry a sluggish offense to victory. The win moves Carolina to 17-15, while Ole Miss drops back to 20-12.
Though neither team would shoot well from the field in the first half, it would be Carolina’s hustle that would make the difference as it jumped out to an early lead. After allowing the game’s first basket, the Gamecocks went on a 10-0 run while forcing Ole Miss into eight straight missed field goals.
Michael Carrera again shined in the first half, one-upping his Wednesday night performance of 12 points with 13 points in the first half alone against the Rebels. He made his first four shots from the field and added three rebounds in 13 minutes of playing time in the opening half. Ole Miss would not fold despite the immense defensive pressure applied by Carolina.
Forcing 15 turnovers in just the first 20 minutes, the Gamecock defense also held the Rebels to just 5-of-21 shooting through the first 17 minutes of play. Its lead would get to 10 points, 26-16, with 2:54 to go, but Ole Miss hit three straight baskets to draw within three heading into halftime, similar to Missouri’s rally the night before. Carolina closed the half just 2-of-14 on field goals in the final eight minutes.
Both teams struggled mightily in the second half, combining to hit just 17-of-57 attempts. Ole Miss would score first to cut it to a 27-26 game, but a 12-4 Carolina run over the next two minutes would stake them a comfortable lead. It would not last, as the Rebels countered with an 11-3 run of their own to keep in contention, and capped a 15-5 stretch to take their first lead since the start of the game, 45-44 with six minutes left.
The lead would be batted back and forth, but neither side would lead by more than one possession, setting up the memorable finish. Ironically enough, the Gamecocks free throw shooting nearly cost them the game, as they missed three attempts in the final 30 seconds that would have potentially sealed the win.
Tyrone Johnson entered Thursday night with the sixth-best free throw percentage in the SEC, at 82 percent. He would hit all three free throws with 0.7 seconds left in regulation. Though he would go without a field goal, he made all five of his free throws for the night, none more important than his final three after being fouled on a buzzer-beater attempt.
KEY STAT The Gamecocks forced 21 turnovers on the night, including 12 steals. The 21 turnovers are the second-most all season, behind only the 22 forced against UNC Asheville. The 12 steals are the second most as well, behind the 13 picks at Marshall. Four different players had multiple steals.
- Tonight marked the second straight season with at least two SEC tournament wins for Carolina, a feat that has never been accomplished in program history. The team has now won two or more tournament games on seven different occasions.
- The team’s three-game win streak is the second longest of the season, behind only the seven-game stretch to close out the non-conference season.
- It is the fourth-straight double-digit scoring effort from Michael Carrera, who led the team with 16 points. He is averaging 14 points and seven rebounds in the last four games.
- Ole Miss shot just 30 percent for the game. Carolina has held six opponents to 30 percent or less so far this season, winning each of those games. It was the lowest field goal percentage allowed by Carolina in its SEC tournament history.
QUOTABLE South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin
Crazy game. Crazy, crazy game. That’s what college basketball is all about. Especially in the month of March when you have two teams that refuse to give in. My hat’s off to Ole Miss. Obviously A.K.’s like a brother to me. A lot of respect for their team, their players, how they play, the quality of team that they have. But so, so proud of the guys that wear the garnet and black. Just their fight, their resolve, their unwillingness to give in regardless of the situations that the game.
South Carolina advances to play third-seeded Georgia on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. That contest will be broadcast on the SEC Network with a tip time of approximately 9:30 p.m. ET. The Gamecocks swept the season series vs. the Bulldogs, posting a 67-50 home win on Jan. 31, and a 64-58 victory at Stegeman Coliseum on Feb. 17. It will be the first meeting since 1997 between the rival schools in the SEC Tournament, with the Bulldogs winning the lone meeting in the semifinal round, 78-63.
TWEETS OF THE GAME
Nice win for @GamecockMBB and what a game!! Anyone could’ve enjoyed that one… I believe it’s March ladies and gentlemen.
— Rob Williams (@RCW_The3rd) March 13, 2015
— Courtland Miles (@courtconnects) March 13, 2015