OXFORD, Miss. - On a night when Morgan Freeman was honored, two other Rebels reached milestones for the Ole Miss men’s basketball team, Senior guard Breein Tyree jumped into the top 10 on the program’s all-time scoring list with a career-high 38 points, leading the Rebels (11-11, 2-7) to an 84-70 victory over South Carolina.
The win was the 500th career victory for Kermit Davis as a head coach.
When the Gamecocks (13-9, 5-4 SEC) tried to fight back, the Rebels answered behind Tyree. The Somerset, New Jersey, native scored 20 of the team’s 41 second half points. Playing all 40 minutes, he finished 12 of 21 for the game, including 11 of 13 at the free throw line.
Blake Hinson added 13 points and seven rebounds. Khadim Sy tallied 10 points to go along with eight rebounds that tied his career high. As a team, Ole Miss shot 47.4 percent (27 of 57) from the field, while making 24 of 32 free throw attempts (75.0 percent).
On the defensive end of the floor, the Rebels limited South Carolina leading scorer AJ Lawson to just five points on 2 of 10 shooting. Jermaine Couisnard recorded 28 points to pace the Gamecocks, while Maik Kotsar added 19 points and a team-high eight rebounds. The Rebels controlled the glass 39-29. Ole Miss raced out to an 8-0 lead behind buckets from four different Rebels. Defensively, they caused South Carolina to miss its first five shots, going without a field goal for the first four minutes of the contest.
Devontae Shuler got off to a fast start by going 3 of 3 for seven of the team’s first 15 points. Up by five, the Rebels doubled their lead with a Hinson three before the sophomore found Tyree on a beautiful backdoor cut, making it 20-10. The Rebels made 11 of their first 15 attempts, growing their lead to 14 points.
South Carolina sliced the margin in half behind Kotsar as Ole Miss went through a four-minute cold spell. However, Tyree countered with a run of his own. The senior scored nine straight points, and adding a free throw from Antavion Collum, the Rebels held a 43-32 cushion at the break. Tyree had 18 points, and Ole Miss shot 51.9 percent (14 of 27) in the opening 20 minutes.
South Carolina scored the first four points of the second half before the Rebels went on a 10-0 run to bump the advantage to 17. The Gamecocks answered to get the game back into single digits, but once again, Ole Miss increased the lead behind Tyree. A 10-2 run, started and capped off by a pair of threes from the senior, pushed the Rebels ahead 72-53 with 6:47 remaining.
Ole Miss wouldn’t let South Carolina get back within striking distance the rest of the way. Tyree knocked down tough shots and converted at the foul line to finish with a new career high and complete the 14-point victory.
The stretch of three home games in seven days continues when the Rebels host Ole Miss alum Mike White and the Florida Gators (Feb. 8). It will be the second time Ole Miss and Florida have battled on the court this season after the Gators protected their home floor last month (Jan. 14). Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. on ESPN2.