Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy woke up this morning knowing he would be facing a tough challenge playing without injured starters Sebastian Saiz and Martavious Newby, who were dealing with eye injuries.
Then Frank Martin’s Number 24 South Carolina Gamecocks (17-1, 4-1 SEC) learned the hard way that playing a short-handed Ole Miss (12-6, 2-4 SEC) team was no easy task as the Gamecocks rallied from 11 points down with just over five minutes remaining to take the game 77-74 in overtime.
“Heart goes out to Ole Miss with (Sebastian) Saiz playing as well as any big guy in the conference and Newby and to lose Moody coming down the stretch,” said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. “They’re a pretty good basketball team. They came out, they came at us.”
Ole Miss seemed like they had the Gamecocks cooked as the Rebels led 64-53 with 5:16 left in the second half. Things would go south for the Rebels as Stefan Moody suffered a hamstring injury with just under five minutes to go in the half. Moody finished the game with 24 points, while forward Anthony Perez added 16 points in his third straight start.
“You’ve just got to deal with it,” said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. “I thought initially when Moody grabbed his hamstring, I just thought it was a cramp. He thought it was a little more than that. He wanted to play. Obviously we wanted him to play, he just couldn’t move. Despite all of that, if we had just made one play we win. One play.”
Moody left the game for a brief stretch and as a result South Carolina would go on an 13-2 run to send the game into overtime.
“The effort was there,” Kennedy said. “Our guys showed a lot of effort, a lot of courage. Battled, battled, battled. Unfortunately in this game that’s not enough. You have to make a play. Offensively, when Moody grabbed his hamstring, we were trying to get somebody else to step up. We couldn’t get that.”
Stefan Moody returned to the game, but did not look like himself, lacking athleticism and his shot-making ability.
With the game tied at 72 with 29 seconds left, South Carolina forward Michael Carrera converted a three-point play and starred down the disappointed Ole Miss crowd. Ole Miss had one chance to tie, but forward Rasheed Brooks missed a three-pointer with 13 seconds left that would seal the victory for South Carolina.
“To beat a ranked team — an SEC game — somebody has got to make a play,” said Kennedy. “We didn’t do that.”
Ole Miss travels to Starkville on Saturday to take on Mississippi State (7-10, 0-5 SEC) at 1:00 p.m. broadcast by the SEC Network. This will be the first time Ole Miss will face last year’s highly recruited prospect Malik Newman, who has struggled so far this year.
Quote of the game
“Moody probably strained his hamstring.”-Andy Kennedy
Stefan Moody became the 38th player in Ole Miss history to reach 1,000 career points.
Moody became the fifth-fastest player in school history to score 1,000 points (52 games).
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy and South Carolina head coach Frank Martin were once assistant coaches under Bob Huggins at Cincinnati.
For continuous coverage of Ole Miss men’s basketball, follow @browningstubbs and thedm_sports.