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A three-game winning streak has Ole Miss contending for an NCAA tournament bid.
The Rebels (11-8, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) have knocked off No. 16 Tennessee and No. 10 Missouri during that stretch. Now Ole Miss plays three of its next four on the road beginning with a trip to Columbia to face South Carolina on Saturday night.
"We spent a lot of time with our team individually and in groups after (a Jan. 30 loss to) Georgia," Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. "It wasn't so much that we hammered them physically. It wasn't a toughness thing or three-hour practices. It was probably more mental stuff and gathering our team. We still knew. We practiced good and I think it's just having success."
Devontae Shuler continues to show why he is one of the conference's top guards, as the Rebels' senior has averaged 18.7 points and 5.0 rebounds over the past three games.
Shuler (15.5 points per game for the season) has shot 35.3 percent from 3-point range and made 10 3-pointers in 25 attempts over the past three games. Shuler's jumper with 0.2 seconds remaining last Saturday was the deciding factor in Ole Miss' overtime win over Auburn.
South Carolina (5-8, 3-6) hung tough with SEC-leader Alabama on Tuesday but ultimately fell 81-78 as its frustrating season continued.
The Gamecocks trailed 79-76 with four seconds left and gained possession following a steal by Keyshawn Bryant (14.5 points, 5.3 rebounds per game). But instead of setting up a tying 3-point attempt as coach Frank Martin had drawn up, Jermaine Couisnard hit Justin Minaya for an uncontested layup. South Carolina then fouled Alabama's James Rojas, who proceeded to make a pair of free throws.
"Instead of running what we asked them to run, we just (had) no mental connection with the situation, but that's the story of the whole season," Martin said. "And it's no more (COVID-19) excuse. We've been practicing for three weeks now. It's no more excuse for that. That's the story of the whole season is our inability to have five guys on the same page."
Shuler will match up against another of the SEC's best guards in South Carolina's AJ Lawson, who is averaging 17.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Lawson hit five 3-pointers and led the Gamecocks with 21 points against Alabama, but Seventh Woods struggled with foul trouble despite totaling 11 points and four assists.
Both teams are among the best in the nation at forcing turnovers with South Carolina opponents averaging 16.9 giveaways per game. Ole Miss has forced opponents to commit 16.7 turnovers per game.
The Gamecocks have had issues protecting the ball themselves, committing 15.5 turnovers per game.
--Field Level Media