A record-tying performance from behind the arc helped Mississippi extend its home winning streak against non-conference opponents.
The No. 14 Rebels will get one more opportunity to continue that dominance when they host Central Florida on Tuesday night in their final game before opening SEC play.
Mississippi (11-2) has one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, ranking 10th in scoring among Division I teams at 84.2 points per game. The Rebels have scored at least 90 points in three of their last four games - including a 90-75 victory over Jacksonville State on Dec. 29 - due largely to their success from 3-point range.
Mississippi went 14 for 31 from beyond the arc against the Gamecocks to tie the school record for 3-pointers made. Terrico White hit seven of his 10 attempts while matching his career high with 29 points.
The win helped the Rebels bounced back from a 76-66 loss at then-No. 6 West Virginia before Christmas. Mississippi was 5 of 24 from 3-point range in that defeat, but it’s still 42 of 103 from beyond the arc over the last four games.
“We’re dangerous when we shoot well and we did that today,” said White, who was held to nine points against the Mountaineers. “We’re 11-2 and we’re in the Top 25, so right now, we’re feeling pretty good.”
Mississippi improved to 33-1 at home against non-conference opponents over the last four seasons under coach Andy Kennedy with last week’s victory. The Rebels have won 10 straight at home against non-SEC foes by an average of 19.6 points. They’ve held the last two opponents below 40 percent shooting.
While Mississippi came away feeling good after its latest win, leading scorer Chris Warren had another tough game, shooting 4 of 13 and finishing with 11 points. He’s averaging 17.1 points but has been held to a combined 30 over the last three games.
Mississippi, which opens the SEC schedule at Tad Smith Coliseum against Mississippi State on Saturday, will try to extend its winning streak at home against non-conference opponents when it takes on UCF (8-5), which visits Oxford for the second consecutive year.
The Knights have already defeated one SEC opponent, beating Auburn 84-74 in November during the Glenn Wilkes Classic. However, since that victory, UCF has dropped four of six, including a 61-51 loss to Jacksonville last Wednesday.
The Knights shot 33.3 percent and had 17 turnovers. They took a 50-49 lead with 2:36 left in the game, but ultimately shot 6 of 24 (25.0 percent) in the second half. Jacksonville closed on a 12-1 run.
“When you’re shooting 25 percent and you can’t throw it in the ocean and you have 17 turnovers you just don’t get anything positive for yourself and it bothers your psyche,” coach Kirk Speraw told the Knights’ official Web site. “But we’ve got to have people when things are going tough who can step up and make that play that calms everybody and gives everybody a sense of confidence. We’re searching for that right now.”
Second-leading scorer A.J. Tyler was held to six points while shooting 2 of 11. Isaac Sosa had a team-high 12 points.
The Knights have lost 11 straight against Top 25 teams since an 82-64 win over then-No. 25 Charleston on Dec. 12, 2002. They fell 60-51 to then-No. 14 Connecticut on Dec. 20 despite leading by five points at the half.
Tuesday is the third all-time meeting between these teams. Mississippi has won the first two, including a 78-46 victory in Oxford last season.