February 2, 2008

17-game home winning streak snapped

The Ole Miss men's basketball team has a rule - don't lost at the Tad Pad.

But, like all rules, eventually, this one was going to be broken.

A huge three-point shot over Kenny Williams from Dominique Archie with under 10 seconds left got South Carolina past No. 22 Ole Miss in Oxford, as the Rebels fell 80-77 at home.

The loss snaps the Rebels' 17-game home winning streak dating back to last season.

"It hurts," David Huertas said.

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said he feared South Carolina, because much like Auburn, the Gamecocks presented the Rebels with matchup issues.

Archie and forward Evaldas Baniulis combined to shoot 60 percent from three-point range against, bigger, slower Rebel defenders.

And while the Rebels struggled to guard, Kennedy said his team struggled on the free-throw line too.

"They 6-for-10 from three-point range, and we couldn't go 6-of-10 from the free throw line," Kennedy said.

The Rebels (16-4, 3-4 SEC) shot just 42.9 percent from the line, hitting on only 6-of-14.

"It's mental," senior Dwayne Curtis said. "We shoot them in practice and make free throws. We can make them all day.

"But, the game comes, and we're not prepared. That's all of us."

Curtis led Ole Miss with 25 points and 10 rebounds, putting him past 1,000 points in his Rebel career.

The Rebels looked like a team that wasn't particularly prepared in the first half, as sloppy plays led to a five-point halftime deficit.

"We had to be in the game early," South Carolina head coach Dave Odom said.

Ole Miss turned the ball over nine times in the first half.

"I don't get it," Kennedy said. "I don't understand it."

South Carolina continued to push in the second half, jumping out to an eight-point lead.

Whether it was Archie making three-point shots with hands in his face or Devan Downey slicing his way through the Ole Miss defense, South Carolina fired shot after shot early in the second half.

Ole Miss withstood the barrage, hanging in the game before Zach Graham and Huertas helped key a run of its own.

A 16-5 run gave Ole Miss it's first lead in the second half, but South Carolina fought right back.

With just under 4 minutes remaining, Downey stepped back and drained a three-point shot, putting the Gamecocks up 74-69.

Downey led South Carolina with 25 points, and he added six rebounds, seven assists and five steals.

"I thought we had them," Odom said.

But two three-point shots from Huertas put Ole Miss back ahead with a 77-75 lead and under 1:35 on the clock.

With the game on the line, the Rebels had chances to put things out of reach, but Ole Miss couldn't make a big shot when it needed it.

"We didn't finish," Kennedy said. "You get what you deserve."

The empty possessions down the stretch set the stage for Archie's big shot, which fell through the hoop with 6 seconds left on the clock.

The Rebels got the ball into Chris Warren, but the freshman stepped out of bounds before he could get a shot up.

A technical foul assessed to the home team for objects being thrown on the court gave South Carolina (11-10, 3-4) a chance to stretch its lead before leaving the floor with a three-point win.

The Rebels have a week off before they hit the road in search of their first league win away from Oxford, as Ole Miss takes on Arkansas in Fayetteville.

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