No. 16 Mississippi Wins Sixth Straight, Sinks South Carolina
Feb. 17, 2001
By PETE IACOBELLI
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Leading scorer Rahim Lockhart and Mississippi's league-leading defense finally showed up for the No. 16 Rebels on Saturday night.
Lockhart, limited to six minutes and no points in the first half because of fouls, scored eight points after the break, including a basket with 2:09 left that put the Rebels (21-4, 9-3 SEC) up for good as they won their sixth straight with a 67-61 victory over South Carolina.
"I was getting kind of frustrated being on the bench and us losing," Lockhart said. "But I decided when I got back out there, I was going to let it all hang out."
And Lockhart came through.
His inside hoop gave the Rebels a 60-59 lead and he followed that with a second straight close-in basket to extend the lead.
David Sanders hit an off-balance 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and Mississippi was up 65-59 with 34.3 seconds remaining.
"On the playground, you'd have to call bank on that one," Mississippi coach Rod Barnes said.
"You could see that took all the wind out of them," Lockhart said.
Sanders said he threw the ball up hoping to get fouled, "but the guy backed off, so I was hoping that it would hit the rim because I knew that if it didn't, it would be a turnover."
The Rebels' defense kicked in as well. Jason Flanigan and Lockhart had steals and South Carolina was called for a shot clock violation in the final six minutes.
The Gamecocks' only field goal during that span was a driving layup by Jamel Bradley with 20.6 seconds to go, far too late to help.
It didn't look like Mississippi would come close to its first win in five trips to the Carolina Coliseum.
The Gamecocks (13-10, 5-7) shot 60.9 percent (14 of 23) to lead 39-37, and
were up 46-34 on Bradley's three-point play with 16 minutes to go.
But Mississippi forced five straight turnovers during a 9-0 run to get back in it.
"We really believe that over a game, our defensive pressure will keep us close," Barnes said. "That's what we strive for."
South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler said his team "really made some bad decisions that helped them cut into the lead very quickly."
The Gamecocks also could not stop Justin Reed, who scored 12 of his team-leading 18 points in the second half.
Barnes said Reed's play helped the Rebels close the gap while Lockhart was on the bench.
"Every game, it seems like someone different has to step up for us," Reed said. "Tonight it was my turn."
Still, things weren't decided until the end.
Jason Harrison's 3-pointer with 8:23 left gave Mississippi its first lead since the first half at 56-53.
Tony Kitchings, who led South Carolina with 17 points, hit a layup with 6:38 to go to regain the lead.
Reed followed with a layup for Mississippi and Aaron Lucas hit two foul shots to put the Gamecocks up, 59-58, and set up Lockhart's time to shine.
South Carolina has lost five of eight.
Ole Miss, which averages less than seven 3-pointers a game, made their first five from long range and led 19-8 less than seven minutes in.
But the Rebels went cold from the field and their SEC-leading defense let them down during the next 10 minutes as the Gamecocks took off on a 27-7 run.
Lucas, the team's leading scorer, had 10 points during the spurt, including the go-ahead 3-pointer.
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