Amaree Abram scored 20 points as No. 13 seed Ole Miss tipped off the Southeastern Conference tournament Wednesday with a 67-61 win over No. 12 seed South Carolina in Nashville, Tenn.
The Rebels (12-20) trailed by two with less than 10 minutes left, but Abram netted 11 points over a span of 5:42 to put his team up 61-52.
The Gamecocks (11-21) cut it to 64-61 with a minute left, but James White (10 points, 10 rebounds) sank a short baseline jumper to seal the Rebels’ fifth win in the past seven meetings with the Gamecocks.
Abram’s 20 points in just 21 minutes was the most against an SEC foe by the 6-foot-4 freshman from Port Arthur, Texas.
He made 7 of his 11 shots, including a stellar 5-for-8 showing from 3-point range.
Jaemyn Brakefield had 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Myles Burns had eight points, six steals, five rebounds and four assists for Ole Miss, which split its previous two meetings with South Carolina this season.
The Rebels held a 22-3 edge in bench points and 13-2 on the fastbreak.
Ole Miss will face the fifth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers in the second of four games scheduled for Thursday.
South Carolina’s GG Jackson II had 24 points and five rebounds while Meechie Johnson and Hayden Brown scored 13 and 11 points, respectively.
After the road team won each of those first two meetings, the foes approached offense differently in the third encounter.
Despite going down 4-0, the Rebels took off running and tied it on fastbreak dunks by Matthew Murrell and White.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks played in a half-court set and trailed 21-19 at the third media timeout at 7:42, but Brown kept it close by scoring seven points.
Ole Miss kept up the pace in transition and led 28-22 at 4:06 after Abram drilled his second trey.
However, the Rebels missed their last six shots, and South Carolina ended the half on a 7-2 run to slash its halftime deficit to 30-29.
In the second half, after the Rebels broke out on a 9-0 run for an eight-point lead — their largest at the time — Jackson scored five straight points as South Carolina squad led 46-44 at 10:21, its last lead of the game.
–Field Level Media