No. 20 South Carolina looks to halt skid in meeting vs. Ole Miss

Feb 17, 2024; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Lamont Paris directs his team against the LSU Tigers in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 South Carolina has had nearly a full week to reflect after suffering its first consecutive losses of the season.

The Gamecocks (21-5, 9-4 Southeastern Conference) rose to No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll before being routed 101-61 at then-No. 13 Auburn on Feb. 14. Then, South Carolina fell in the final seconds to visiting LSU 64-63 last Saturday.

South Carolina hopes to get back on the winning track when it visits Ole Miss (19-7, 6-7) on Saturday in Oxford, Miss.

“(We’ll) just make sure we learn from this moment,” Gamecocks guard BJ Mack said. “It’s not a feeling that we want to have. The goal is to win.”

The Gamecocks, who have five games left in the regular season, suffered their most-lopsided loss of the campaign against Auburn. South Carolina also held a 16-point second-half lead against LSU before faltering.

“You gotta learn fast,” Gamecocks coach Lamont Paris said. “There are lessons to be taught from winning and losing, and so the only real travesty about (the loss to LSU) will be if you don’t learn some things from it. And so there’ll be some learning for sure.”

South Carolina will begin a two-game trip that will conclude at Texas A&M on Wednesday.

Paris said he was “a little shell-shocked” at some of his team’s decision-making down the stretch against LSU.

“It’s just disappointing to have a game that’s still there to be won and didn’t play great,” he said.

Ole Miss also has struggled of late, especially defensively. It sustained its fourth loss in five games with an 83-71 setback to Mississippi State on Wednesday in Starkville, Miss.

The Rebels have allowed an average of 79.2 points in their last six games.

“Certainly we did not put out there the kind of performance that we wanted to,” Ole Miss coach Chris Beard said. “That was not a typical box score for the way we like to play.”

The box score showed a few numbers that concerned Beard. Two Rebels — Allen Flanigan and TJ Caldwell — fouled out, but no member of the Bulldogs fouled out, and Mississippi State shot 18 more free throws than Ole Miss.

“I thought the more physical team won the game,” Beard said. “Our defense over the years has been a defense that tries to keep people of the free-throw line.”

The free-throw disparity could have led to a larger final margin, but the Bulldogs didn’t take full advantage. They made 23 of 39 attempts while the Rebels sank 19 of 21.

Ole Miss led by four points at intermission before getting outscored 43-27 in the second half even though Mississippi State barely made half of its free-throw attempts after halftime (14 of 27).

“They deserved to win the game,” Beard said. “They were the aggressor, especially at the start of the second half. In the second half they definitely set the tone.”

The Rebels faded in the second half in part because of limited productivity from their bench, which has been a recurring issue. The Ole Miss reserves got outscored by the Bulldogs’ reserves 49-11.

“Obviously their bench production was the difference in the box score,” Beard said.

–Field Level Media

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