Sebastian Saiz scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead Ole Miss past South Carolina, 75-70, on Saturday night.
Breein Tyree added 19 points for Ole Miss (19-12, 10-8 in the Southeastern Conference), Justas Furmanavicius had 12 and Cullen Neal finished 11.
Ole Miss led by as many as 20 points early in the second half before South Carolina charged back. The Gamecocks got within four points before Neal knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Rebels some breathing room.
South Carolina closed to within four points twice more in the final minutes as the Rebels missed four of their final six free throws but the Gamecocks couldn’t close the gap.
Earlier, Ole Miss broke open a tight game and built an eight-point lead late in the first half, thanks to consecutive 3-pointers from Rasheed Brooks and a free throw from Saiz. The Rebels, courtesy of a baseline jumper from Tyree in the final seconds of the first half, led by 11 at intermission.
SEC player of the year candidate Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina (22-9, 12-6) with 25 points, P.J. Dozier had 13, and Hassani Gravett and Duane Notice had 10 apiece.
The Gamecocks are likely headed to the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens next week at the SEC tournament. However, the loss at Ole Miss, while not a black mark, won’t help their seeding.
The Rebels likely have no hope of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Saturday’s win probably helped their National Invitation Tournament resume.
The Gamecocks have a bye until Friday in Nashville. South Carolina will face Alabama, LSU or Mississippi State in the SEC tournament quarterfinals. Ole Miss: The Rebels will play the Auburn-Missouri winner on Thursday night in the SEC tournament in Nashville.