Forward Chris Silva posted his ninth double-double of the season to lead South Carolina to an 85-84 victory over Ole Miss in a first-round Southeastern Conference tournament game Wednesday night in St. Louis.
Silva scored 21 points and snagged 11 rebounds and guard Frank Booker came off the bench for 21 points, including hitting 6 of 12 from 3-point range, as the Gamecocks (17-15) capitalized at the free throw line (19-of-34) after nearly being done in by a long field goal drought.
South Carolina will play Arkansas (21-10) in the second round Thursday night. The Razorbacks will be without forward Dustin Thomas, who was dismissed from the team Monday. He started the last six games and averaged 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds a game for the season.
The Rebels (12-20) finished the season with 12 losses in their last 13 games.
Guard Breein Tyree led Ole Miss with 18 points and forward Bruce Stevens scored 15 points and had 13 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
The Gamecocks went over a nine-minute span starting late in the first half and continuing into the second without a field goal and fell behind 53-48 with 13:06 before getting back on track.
They later put together a string of six consecutive baskets — five from 3-point range — to take a 68-61 lead with 9:11 left in the game.
The Rebels got it down to 84-81 on guard Deandre Burnett’s free throws with 16.0 seconds left, but Booker’s put the Gamecocks up by four with one of two free throws with 13.4 seconds left, making Stevens’ triple at the buzzer meaningless.
After getting out of the gate down 5-0, the Gamecocks led most of the first half and had a nine-point cushion, 35-26, with 3:23 left in the period. But they went without a field goal over the last 4:35 and guard Terence Davis’ baseline jumper at the buzzer got the Rebels within 38-36 at the break.
—Field Level Media