COLUMBIA -- This time, there was no need for an instant classic, game-winning shot.
The South Carolina men's basketball team dispensed with Ole Miss 82-71 on Saturday night, turning what was a close game for 20 minutes into an unmitigated rout.
USC (14-4, 3-2 SEC) tied its overall win total from each of the previous two seasons. It did so by pulling away from injury-riddled Ole Miss (10-9, 1-4), which struggled to hit outside shots.
After a nip-and-tuck first half, the Gamecocks opened the second half by scoring 11 straight points. It was a 26-5 run overall, counting Devan Downey's long 3-pointer in the first half's closing seconds.
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Downey finished with a game-high 22 points. Mike Holmes added nine points and 10 rebounds.
David Huertas, the SEC's third-leading scorer and one of its best 3-point shooters, missed a bunch of wide-open threes. The Rebels started 0-for-11 from beyond the arc, not hitting one until 11:19 left in the game.
The Rebels went 9:58 without a field goal, between the last stages of the first half and the end of USC's second-half run.
The Gamecocks countered with an inability to hit free throws. It was a rare rough spot in an otherwise error-free night.
It was a less dramatic victory than 72 hours earlier on the same court, when Zam Fredrick's buzzer-beating layup beat No. 24 Florida.
Coach Darrin Horn had said his players better stay humble and take the struggling Rebels seriously. They apparently did, at least after the 20 minutes of a real challenge.
There were 14 lead changes in the first half, and five ties. Neither team led by more than four.