Shuler’s career-high 31 helps Rebels edge South Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Devontae Shuler scored a career-high 31 points in a return to his native South Carolina and his shot block and resulting pair of free throws with nine seconds left helped Ole Miss stave off the Gamecocks 81-74 on Saturday.

Shuler, the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, was 8-for-13 shooting with 13 points by halftime to notch his 10th straight game in double figures. He added 13 of 16 at the free throw line, seven rebounds four assists and two blocks.

Ole Miss (12-8, 6-6) had been cruising with a double digit lead for almost all of the second half until back-to-back steals by AJ Lawson and Trae Hannibal helped South Carolina (5-9, 3-7) spark a 6-0 run and cut the Ole Miss lead down to 76-69 with 1:28 remaining.

TJ Moss hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left and South Carolina trailed by five and got the ball back on a Lawson steal. He missed a 3-pointer and Hannibal’s putback attempt was blocked by Shuler, who was fouled and made both to ice the win.

Romello White added 14 points and KJ Buffen 12 for Ole Miss, which shot 50% for the game (22 of 44), but made 34 of 44 free throws.

Lawson led South Carolina with 22 points, making 4 of 12 3-pointers. Wildens Leveque added 13 points with three blocked shots and Hannibal scored six of his 12 points in the final 3:23.

Ole Miss led 36-28 at the half, closing on a 17-9 run from from a 19-19 tie at 6:08 as the Gamecocks missed five of their last seven shots with three turnovers. South Carolina shot 40% in the game.

The Rebels’ Luis Rodriguez, fifth in the SEC in steals at 1.7 per game, swiped three and had six points before fouling out. Ole Miss had five steals in the first half and 11 on the game. South Carolina had 14 steals, Justin Minaya with three.

Ole Miss plays host to in-state rival Mississippi State Feb. 20, looking for a season sweep. South Carolina is at No. 16 Tennessee on Tuesday.

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