Mississippi, South Carolina aim for winning run

·2 min read

South Carolina and Ole Miss both know they can reach the NCAA Tournament by winning the SEC tournament.

But unlike the 11th-seeded Gamecocks, the sixth-seeded Rebels believe that's not their only avenue to extending their season.

At 15-10, Mississippi likely can earn an at-large berth just by advancing to the weekend, beginning with the matchup against South Carolina on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.

"There's no question we have to win one, maybe two," Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. "It'd be nice to make a great run. We're like one of probably eight or nine teams that has an opportunity to do that."

The Rebels lost four of their first five SEC games, but have won seven of their last nine games overall, which includes a four-game winning streak that culminated with an 81-74 win at South Carolina on Feb. 13.

"We're in the conversation," Davis said. "We'd like to have our program to where we're in the tournament like we were, maybe a couple of years ago, and you're just going into the tournament, trying to play for a championship and seeding. But it's still exciting."

Ole Miss beat visiting Vanderbilt 56-46 in its regular-season finale last Saturday.

The Gamecocks (6-14) are coming off a 92-64 loss at Kentucky last Saturday, their eighth loss in nine games, and they know they'll have to win four games in four days to reach the NCAA Tournament.

"I feel like the SEC tournament anybody can win, and so I feel like we have a chance, honestly," said Jalyn McCreary, who scored 14 points against Kentucky. "It's open for anybody to win the SEC tournament, so we got to lock in and get ready."

The team's immediate future has had to share the spotlight with coach Frank Martin's long-term future. Multiple media reports have listed Martin as a potential candidate for another job after the season.

Martin, who has two years left on his contract, said he's not looking to leave.

"If I'm wanted, this is what I want to call home," Martin said. "You don't live somewhere for nine years and invest yourselves in the community the way my family has tried to do, develop the friendships we have, then run away from that."

The winner of the South Carolina-Ole Miss game will face third-seeded LSU in the quarterfinals Friday night.

--Field Level Media