COLUMBIA, S.C. – Michael Carrera and Eric Smith combined to score 25 points and haul in 16 rebounds for South Carolina on Wednesday night, and it proved to be just enough to defeat Ole Miss by a final score of 63-62.
Trailing by two in the final minute, Eric Smith drilled a 3-pointer off an assist from Lakeem Jackson that put the Gamecocks (13-13, 3-10 Southeastern Conference) ahead by a point with 25 ticks remaining. Ole Miss (19-7, 8-5) would have three chances to take the lead in the closing seconds, but the Rebels were unable to convert any of those shots and wound up with a one-point defeat on the road.
Carrera and Smith combined to hit 11 of their 21 shots on the evening and paced a South Carolina offense that rounded out the game with a 40 per cent shooting mark. Bruce Ellington added nine points and three assists in the winning effort, while Laimonas Chatkevicius chipped in seven points and seven boards to go along with a critical block in the final seconds.
Murphy Holloway led the way for Ole Miss with a double-double effort of 10 points and 13 boards. Marshall Henderson was limited to 11 points on just four-of-17 shooting, while Derrick Millinghaus also added 11 points to go along with five rebounds. The Rebels only managed to hit on 37 percent of their shot attempts for the game, and 12 turnovers did not help their cause.
Both squads will look toward Saturday games now, as South Carolina will prepare for Georgia and Ole Miss will face off with Auburn.
Turner Leads Texas A&M Past Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. – Texas A&M hit the road on Wednesday night in search of a victory, and the Aggies got just what they were looking for in the form of a 65-56 triumph over Auburn. Elston Turner led the way for TAMU (16-10, 6-7 Southeastern Conference) with a game-high 21 points on six-of-12 shooting.
The Aggies and the Tigers (9-17, 3-10) were neck-and-neck heading into the half, as Texas A&M ended the opening 20 minutes clinging to a two-point advantage. But with the game knotted at 42 midway through the second half, the Aggies took control and finished with a 23 to 14 surge that separated the score and helped seal the road win.
Turner’s big night paced the A&M offensive effort with his 50 percent shooting performance, but he had some help. Alex Caruso knocked down six of his 11 field goal attempts on the night en route to 14 points, eight assists and four rebounds for TAMU. The Ags also received a boost off the bench, as the trio of Andrew Young, J’Mychal Reese and Jarod Jahns chipped in six points apiece.
Allen Payne was the lone Tiger to crack double digits in the scoring column, leading the team with 11 points on four-of-seven shooting. As a squad, Auburn hit 38 percent of its shots for the game were limited to 25 points in the decisive second half.
Texas A&M shot 46 percent as a team in the victory while forcing 19 turnovers on the defensive end while allowing only 11 Auburn assists.
Texas A&M will now turn its focus towards a Saturday game with Tennessee while Auburn will face Ole Miss on the same day.
Alabama Takes Down Mississippi State
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama didn’t lead from start to finish in its Wednesday night win over Mississippi State, but the Tide came close. Bama (18-8, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) only trailed by two points in the early goings against the Bulldogs (7-18, 2-11) before holding the lead the rest of the way to a 64-56 win at home.
Rodney Cooper and Trevor Releford led the way for Alabama offensively, combining for 37 points on the night. Cooper led all scorers with 20 points on seven-of-10 shooting, while Releford wasn’t far behind with 17 points on five-of-10 shooting. Cooper hauled in 10 rebounds as well to complete the double-double performance, and Trevor Lacey added 11 points of his own for Bama.
The Tide only shot 39 percent in the win, but a feisty defensive effort forced the Bulldogs into 23 turnovers that helped Alabama maintain control.
Jalen Steele led the way for MSU with 15 points and four rebounds, while Colin Borchert did his part with 14 points and nine boards. Mississippi State connected on 41 percent of its field goals as a unit, but turnovers ultimately doomed the Bulldogs on the road.
Alabama will take on LSU in its next contest on Saturday, while the Tide will take on Vandy the same afternoon.
Cauley-Stein Paces Kentucky Past Vandy
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky was playing its second game without Nerlens Noel following a knee injury last week, and the Wildcats (18-8, 9-4 Southeastern Conference) picked up their first win without their freshman sensation by downing Vanderbilt, 74-70.
Forward Willie Cauley-Stein stepped up for the Cats on Wednesday with a game-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds. The big man hit 80 percent of his shots on the night to help UK shoot 51 percent overall. Archie Goodwin turned in a big effort as well, scoring 16 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists.
Ryan Harrow added 12 points in the win for Kentucky, while Julius Mays contributed nine points and six rebounds.
Kedren Johnson led the Commodores (10-15, 4-9) with 17 points on four-of-10 shooting, while Rod Odom scored 16 points of his own in the losing effort. Josh Henderson chipped in 13 points on five-of-seven from the field, and Kyle Fuller added 14 off the bench. All of that was not enough to overcome Kentucky’s hot shooting and a 14-point deficit.
Kentucky will be back in action on Saturday against Mizzou, while Vanderbilt will take on Mississippi State the same day.