COLUMBIA — Anthony Perez scored a career-high 22 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining as Mississippi erased a 12-point deficit and held on to defeat South Carolina 75-74 Saturday.
Marshall Henderson had 16 of his 19 points in the second half for the Rebels (12-5, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), who rallied after falling behind 39-27 early on the second half. Ole Miss still trailed 66-61 after Duane Notice’s two jumpers with four minutes left.
That’s when Henderson drove right of the lane for a basket and got fouled for a three-point play. Perez tied the game with two foul shots on Ole Miss’ next possession. Perez followed a minute later with a three to put the Rebels ahead for good, 71-68.
South Carolina (7-10, 0-4) closed to 75-74 and had possession with 1.8 seconds left, but Sindarius Thornwell’s 3-point heave was off the mark. Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 24 points.
Perez bettered his career mark of 14, set against Mississippi Valley State in November.
Henderson was held to 1-of-8 shooting in the opening half, yet made his points count – and put on a show – in the second half. When he hit the last of his three 3-pointers to put Ole Miss ahead 48-47, Henderson dragged his finger across the floor like a match on his way to the bench.
Jarvis Summers added 19 points for the Rebels.
South Carolina had plenty of things going against it in this game. The Gamecocks came in having lost nine straight SEC games, including three this season.
Point guard Tyrone Johnson was lost indefinitely when he broke his right foot in a loss at Texas A&M last Wednesday night. Established point guard Bruce Ellington, also the football team’s top receiver, gave up the rest of his senior season in basketball to train for the NFL draft. That left the Gamecocks with three freshmen rotating in at the position in Duane Notice, Jaylen Shaw and Thornwell.
And Henderson looked like he was ready to build on his last showing when he scored 25 points to lead the Rebels past LSU, 88-74, on Wednesday. But Henderson and Ole Miss were off – way off – in the opening period.
He laughed off the pregame fan taunts, imitated the drummers in the pep band and bounced around as he waited for the tip.
Henderson had a 3-pointer early as the Rebels led 12-4 in the first six minutes. They were still ahead 18-12 on Summers’ basket when the Gamecocks found their game.
Michael Carrera had a three-point play and two foul shots as part of 12-1 run to move in front. The Gamecocks kept up the pace, especially on defense as Ole Miss missed five shots and committed seven of its 11 first-half turnovers during a six-minute stretch.
By then, South Carolina had built a double-digit lead and led 37-27 at halftime.
Henderson missed his final seven shots of the half and was 1 of 5 on 3-pointers the first 20 minutes.
Shaw topped the Gamecocks with nine points in the opening period.
South Carolina may have been fueled by the atmosphere and large crowd at the 18,000-seat arena. The program was celebrating the legacy of late coach Frank McGuire and several of his players, including Alex English, Bobby Cremins, Mike Dunleavy and Brian Winters were on hand for ceremonies.
Then Gamecocks football coach Steve Spurrier and his players took the floor at halftime, the crowd saluting a third straight 11-2 season. Also on hand was defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who gave up his senior season for the NFL draft. Clowney is considered by many the top pro prospect.