USC Men's Basketball

Gamecocks’ defense manhandles Ole Miss

Frank Martin reacts after win over Ole Miss

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin speaks Saturday after the Gamecocks' win over Ole Miss.
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South Carolina head coach Frank Martin speaks Saturday after the Gamecocks' win over Ole Miss.

Both coaches learned under Bob Huggins, who preached defense above all.

South Carolina took Ole Miss to the pulpit.

The Gamecocks crunched the Rebels 67-56 Saturday to continue their best SEC start in two decades, again leaning on their suffocating D and getting enough points to get by. Ole Miss (10-7, 1-4 SEC), playing without leading scorer Deandre Burnett (high ankle sprain), managed a meager 47 points in their last game and had to follow it by playing the best defense in the conference. The Gamecocks (14-3, 4-0) didn’t light up the scoring columns but P.J. Dozier and Chris Silva each had 16 points to easily out-pace any of the Rebels’ usual stars.

Frank Martin and Andy Kennedy each cut their teeth under Huggins at Cincinnati, Martin following Huggins to Kansas State and then succeeding him as coach. Martin compared USC’s man-to-man pressure and aggression to Huggins’ styles, and credited Kennedy for employing Huggins’ half-court trap.

Kennedy, after his squad shot 30.9 percent and turned it over 21 times, shook his head.

“I’m not sure Huggs would claim the team I got,” he murmured. “We’re awfully soft.”

Neither team could score but the Gamecocks were all over the boards, getting second and third chances and getting to the free-throw line. For a while, that looked like it might be enough, but Ole Miss got a boost from backup guard Cullen Neal.

Neal swished three free throws to cut USC’s lead to three points in the first, but the Gamecocks kept tightening their defense. The Rebels scored four points in the final six minutes as USC constructed a 14-point lead.

Ole Miss blinked after halftime and the Gamecocks were up 20. USC committed 20 turnovers and only hit five 3-pointers against the worst 3-point defense in the league, but they never let it get interesting.

Martin was pleased with the much-improved rebounding (42-32, and 29 on the defensive glass) and disappointed with the offense. He can deal with a bad shooting night as long as USC takes care of the ball, but the Gamecocks have now played two straight games with at least 20 turnovers.

“That’s two games in a row we can’t get lined up the right way, and we just turn the ball over,” he said. “And that’s a recipe for major problems.”

Yet the Gamecocks won and are facing their most crucial week of the season. Tied with No. 23 Florida and No. 6 Kentucky for first place in the SEC, USC plays each this week.

“They’re huge,” Dozier said. “Our mindset is the next game is always the biggest game.”

NOTE: Freshman Evan Hinson made his basketball debut. He redshirted in his first football season.

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Jory Fleming, a USC senior with autism who carries a perfect grade-point average in a double-major in geography and marine science with a minor in geophysics, was recently named a winner of the Rhodes Scholarship, given to just 32 college students

OLE MISS (10-7)

Hymon 0-4 0-0 0, Saiz 3-10 5-9 11, Furmanavicius 2-5 4-5 8, Tyree 2-9 3-4 7, Davis 3-12 0-0 6, Neal 3-4 3-3 12, Brooks 3-8 0-0 8, Fitzpatrick-Dorsey 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 17-55 17-23 56.

SOUTH CAROLINA (14-3)

Silva 5-11 6-7 16, Kotsar 3-6 0-0 6, Thornwell 3-10 4-6 10, Dozier 4-9 7-10 16, Notice 2-8 1-2 7, Keita 0-1 0-2 0, Tut 0-0 0-0 0, Gueye 0-0 0-0 0, McKie 0-0 0-0 0, Felder 3-7 4-4 12, Corchiani 0-0 0-0 0, Gravett 0-2 0-0 0, Hinson 0-0 0-0 0, Blanton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-55 22-31 67.

Halftime: South Carolina 34-20. 3-Point Goals: Ole Miss 5-17 (Neal 3-3, Brooks 2-6, Furmanavicius 0-1, Tyree 0-2, Davis 0-2, Saiz 0-3), South Carolina 5-20 (Felder 2-5, Notice 2-7, Dozier 1-5, Gravett 0-1, Thornwell 0-2). Fouled Out: Kotsar. Rebounds: Ole Miss 30 (Saiz 15), South Carolina 40 (Silva 11). Assists: Ole Miss 8 (Tyree 3), South Carolina 12 (Thornwell, Dozier, Notice 3). Total Fouls: Ole Miss 23, South Carolina 19. Technicals: Brooks. A: 15,202 (18,000).

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