Jan. 19, 2016
OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 24/18 South Carolina Gamecocks would lead for just two minutes total in regulation Tuesday night at Ole Miss, but still managed to force overtime and won a critical SEC road game, 77-74. Despite facing a double-figure deficit for most of the second half, the Gamecocks rallied late to force the extra period and leaned on their seniors to finish off the comeback.
Laimonas Chatkevicius posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Michael Carrera scored five of his team-high 19 points in overtime to lead the Gamecocks. With the win, the team moves to 17-1 for the season and 4-1 in the SEC. Ole Miss is now 12-6, 2-4 in conference play.
It would take a stretch for the offense to find its foot at the start of the game, as it started just 1-of-9 from the field. After that, though, the Gamecocks converted 5-of-6 to take a 13-12 lead with 12 to play. Neither team could find space on the scoreboard early, but six quick points off back-to-back possessions gave Ole Miss a two-possession cushion it used to carry the lead for the final eight minutes of action.
The Rebels spaced out the Carolina defense, who were paying careful attention to Stefan Moody — the SEC’s leading scorer — and kept the defense running. Carolina would get within four, 25-21, with five minutes to play, but Ole Miss’ sixth and seventh 3s of the period pushed the lead to 39-29 by halftime.
Forward Anthony Perez would lead all scorers with 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting from 3 to power the Rebels, who shot 43 percent as a team. The Gamecocks were powered by Mindaugas Kacinas and his eight points and five rebounds, but made just one 3 in the opening half.
South Carolina ran out of the locker room with a hot start to the first half, whittling the deficit all the way down to three at 44-41 just four minutes in. Ole Miss called a timeout to regroup, and ran back ahead thanks to the efforts of Marcanvis Hymon. He would score seven of the team’s next ten points, and the home side pushed back ahead to 54-43 just four minutes after Carolina’s big run.
The Gamecocks were unable to string together scores and stops for most of the final 20 minutes, but were able to catch their breath when Moody suffered an apparent hamstring injury and had to leave the game with five minutes left to play. Without their senior leader, the Rebels went without a point for the final four minutes of regulation.
Seeing daylight, Carolina ran off an 11-0 run in that same stretch, and would find themselves tied at 66 with just a 45 seconds to play. Moody would re-enter the game and found Perez in the corner for a 3, but he would miss his first attempt of the day and Carolina had the final possession of the period. Duane Notice drove the lane with six seconds to play for a contested layup, but his attempt rolled off the right side the game would go to overtime.
Off the tip in overtime, the Gamecocks would be assertive and earned the early 70-68 lead behind a 3-pointer from Duane Notice. The lead would grow to four after a pair of free throws from Jamall Gregory, but the Rebs went for four straight to tie the game at 72 with just 53 seconds remaining.
As Gamecock fans have come to expect after four years, it would be an effort play from Michael Carrera that ultimately put a pin on the comeback. He connected on a tough three-point play on the team’s very next possession, collecting a jumbled pass in the key, drawing contact on a fade-away jumper and making the shot. The senior then leapt up to collect a blocked 3-pointer on the Ole Miss end and made the next two free throws to make it a two-possession game with 10 seconds left and ice the improbable win.
After Ole Miss’ Stefan Moody left the game with a leg injury with five minutes to go in regulation, the Gamecocks saw an opportunity to make one last run down 64-53. Carolina ran to a 13-2 finish in those final five minutes, with four different player chipping in points.
Neither side would be particularly strong from the free throw line in the game, but it would be Ole Miss’ accuracy late in the second half that aided Carolina’s comeback. The Rebs hit just 8-of-18 free throws in the second half, but more importantly missed four straight in the final three minutes that Carolina scored on the very next possession each time. The Gamecocks made 7-of-8 free throws in the final eight minutes of the second half and 6-of-7 free throws in overtime.
South Carolina travels to face Tennessee on Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville. The Gamecocks posted a victory in the final regular-season contest of the 2015 campaign in Knoxville, which marked Carolina’s first win at Thompson-Boling since the 2002 SEC campaign.
- This was the team’s first overtime game since the 2012-13 season, when it played in three. The last overtime win came at LSU almost three years to the day, Jan. 16, 2013
- With the win, South Carolina now matches its win total from all of last season.
- This is South Carolina’s second win ever in Oxford, the first since 2008. The Gamecocks have won back-to-back games in the series after allowing the Rebels to win the previous three.
- Laimonas Chatkevicius recorded his second double-double of the season, the fourth of his career, and has scored double figures in back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 27.
- The team’s 40-26 advantage in points in the paint marked the second straight game with 40 or more points in the category so far this season.
- Freshman Jamall Gregory played an important role off the bench, spelling a Carolina backcourt that was run ragged by Moody. He would play a career-high 18 minutes, and the team was plus-25 when he was on the court.
- Ole Miss only turned the ball over 10 times, the lowest total committed by a Gamecock opponent so far this season.