The South Carolina Gamecocks upset the Ole Miss Rebels 63–62 after a long three by Eric Smith with 25 seconds remaining. Not only was Ole Miss dreadful on defense, but the Rebels offense went through huge periods of the game without being able to put up any points.
The Rebels had not lost to a team with an RPI higher than 75 all season. The Gamecocks have an RPI triple that. South Carolina is bad; if it weren’t for Mississippi State’s injury woes, South Carolina would be the last place team in the SEC. This loss takes the Rebels from definitely being in the NCAA tournament, to a possibility of being left out.
Give the majority of credit for this win to Frank Martin – not Ole Miss’s recent slide. Martin saw Ole Miss’s weakness and took advantage: stop Marshall Henderson, stop the Rebels. That’s exactly what his Gamecocks team did, holding Henderson to only 11 points. The Gamecocks have trouble down low, and all night they were dominated by Murphy Holloway, but by shutting down most of the Rebels’ other offense the strategy worked. Martin’s team played to their strengths and the Rebels’ weaknesses.
This win was big for South Carolina and their rebuilding program, but it was devastating to Ole Miss. If Ole Miss doesn’t make it to the NCAA tournament they will look at this breakdown and wonder, “what if?”. Although the Rebels may be on their way out of the tournament, there are not many teams in the SEC who will step up and take their place. On-the-bubble Alabama and Kentucky, along with Tennessee–a team that is rapidly improving– are all looking to replace Ole Miss.