OXFORD • Finally a lead held up.
Ole Miss had a double-figure advantage in the second half for the fourth-straight SEC home game, and Breein Tyree helped the Rebels lock down an 84-70 win over South Carolina before 6,990 fans at The Pavilion on Wednesday night.
It’s the 500th career win for Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis. He can thank Tyree, his lone senior, who finished with a career-high 38 points.
The Rebels (11-11, 2-7 SEC) had lost eight of their last nine games – including home games they led in the second half against Arkansas, LSU and Auburn – and looked vulnerable a couple of times in the final frame in spite of a 43-32 lead at the half.
“Breein was exceptional. Early in the game he drove that ball, and he drove it in straight lines,” Davis said.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin had taken note of previous Ole Miss home losses.
“They’ve been right there, especially here at home. They’ve lost some hard, hard games at home that they could very easily have won.”
The Gamecocks (13-9, 5-4 SEC) played without sophomore Justin Minaya, their second-leading rebounder and leading shot-blocker.
The loss followed an exceptionally poor Monday practice, Martin said.
“We were embarrassingly bad. We could have brought kindergarteners in, and they would have practiced better than we did.”
When the Gamecocks made a run, Tyree had more fight.
South Carolina got the lead below 10 when Jermaine Cousinard’s 3-pointer from the right wing made it 56-48 with 11 minutes, 6 seconds to play.
Ole Miss, though, pushed the lead back to 14 with Tyree scoring seven of the Rebels’ nine points during the run.
The lead reached 19 on a Tyree 3-pointer with 6:47 left, but the Gamecocks scored nine-straight to cut the lead to 10.
Tyree answered with six-straight points on three Ole Miss possessions.
Davis pulled Tyree aside for a chat after he was held to eight and nine points in last week’s losses to Auburn and at LSU.
Ole Miss plays in the second of three-straight home games on Saturday, as Florida visits for a 1 p.m. tipoff.