Rebels lose SEC Tournament opener, ending their season at 12-20
ST. LOUIS – Chris Silva had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and South Carolina rallied from five points down in the second half to defeat Mississippi 85-84 in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Wednesday night.
Silva was one of five players to score in double figures for the 11th-seeded Gamecocks (17-15), who likely need to win the tournament to have any hope of earning a berth to the NCAA Tournament _ where they reached the Final Four last season. The 6-foot-9 sophomore was only 4 of 14 from the field, but he set career highs in free throw makes (13) and attempts (20).
Frank Booker also scored 21 points for South Carolina, and Justin Minaya had 16. Mak Kotsar added 14 points and Wesley Myers 10 in the win for the Gamecocks, who advance to face No. 6 seed Arkansas on Thursday.
Breein Tyree scored 18 points to lead the 14th-seeded Rebels (12-20), who lost for the 11th time in their last 12 games to end the season. Terence Davis added 16 points, while Bruce Stevens had 15 and Deandre Burnett 13 for Ole Miss.
Booker put South Carolina up 85-81 with a free throw with 13.4 seconds remaining. Stevens answered with a 3-pointer on the other end for the Rebels, but it came at the buzzer.
South Carolina led by as many as nine points midway through the first half. However, the Rebels closed the half with a flourish _ with Davis hitting a baseline jumper as time expired to pull Ole Miss within 38-36 at halftime. They carried that momentum into the second half and led 61-58 before South Carolina took control with a 16-4 run and held on in the closing seconds.