OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss used an early run to take control on Tuesday night before pulling away with a 90-75 win over the Jacksonville State basketball team at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The 15th-ranked Rebels (11-2) used a 17-0 run to build an early 15-point lead, one the Gamecocks (5-6) couldn't overcome after a pair of valiant runs that got them back to within striking distance. A 22-7 run to close the first half pulled the Gamecocks to within six and a late JSU run turned a 25-point deficit into just a 12-point Ole Miss advantage, but the Rebels held off the Gamecocks to spoil JSU head coach and former Rebel James Green's homecoming.
"I thought that their run to start the game probably had a little to do with nervousness on our part, but you have to give Ole Miss credit. They are really good," Green said. "I thought they came out and were really ready to play, but we didn't get out to their shooters and didn't get our heels on the floor and let them go by us. Then they were tenacious on the glass."
The Gamecocks didn't fold, using a 16-point effort from junior Jeremy Bynum, 10 of which came in the first half, to turn the tables. After trailing by 21 in the final seven minutes of the first half, JSU rattled off a 13-2 run that ingnited the Gamecocks' charge.
"I was really pleased that we stuck to our game plan at the end of the half, and because of that, we were able to get back in it," Green added. "We talked at the half about not letting them come out in the second half to a start like they had to open the game. Unfortunately, they came out of the gates and made another run."
That run ended up being an 11-2 one that opened the game back up and set the stage for the remainder of the game.
Ole Miss' Terrico White led all scorers with a career-high-tying 29 that saw him go 11-of-18 from the floor and 7-of-10 from behind the arc. Ole Miss ended the night making 14 3-pointers to JSU's six. Zach Graham and Chris Warren were the only other two Rebels with double figures in the points column, tossing in 14 and 11, respectively.
Trenton Marshall led JSU with 20 points in 30 minutes of action. The Garyville, La., native that transferred to JSU from Jones Junior College in Ellisville, Miss., was 6-for-19 from the floor and 6-for-8 from the free throw line. Jay-R Strowbridge added 11 points in reserve action for the Gamecocks, while Dominique Shellman scored a career-best nine points.
In its final game before getting back into Ohio Valley Conference play on Saturday at Eastern Illinois, JSU went to the free throw line 21 times and sank 19 of them for a 91 percent success rate. They turned the ball over just four times and outscored the Rebels in the Paint, 36-28. Ole Miss won the battle on the boards, 47-38.
"The thing we talked about after tonight's game is ‘What have we learned,' because we're back on the road to start conference play this weekend," Green said. "So what we've learned to this point, we have to apply it to make ourselves ready for our conference. We won't play anyone as talented as Ole Miss, but every team left on our schedule is good enough to beat us if we don't give our best effort each time out."
The Gamecocks didn't make a field goal until a Dominique Shellman layup with 12:51 to play in the first half, a shot that ended a 17-0 Ole Miss run that built a 17-2 Rebel lead. The Rebels continued to roll, knocking down eight first-half 3-pointers to open a 21-point lead with 7:17 to play before intermission.
Jax State scored 13 of the next 15 points to spark a 22-7 run that cut the Gamecocks' deficit to 42-36 at the half. Bynum, who knocked down a pair of treys in the first 20 minutes, led all players with 12 first-half points and five rebounds. Amadou Mbodji added seven points off of the bench for JSU in the first half, connecting on all three of his attempts from the floor.
The Rebels got 10 points in the first half from Zach Graham in the half, while Terrico White added nine in their early run.
Ole Miss opened the second half much like the first, this time using an 11-2 run to pull out to a 53-38 lead with 17:22 remaining in the game. JSU pulled to within 11 but the Rebels answered with a 13-3 run that gave them a 66-45 advantage with just 12:39 remaining in the game.
They would pull out to a 78-53 lead at the 9:19 mark, the Rebels' largest of the night, before JSU mounted a small run that wouldn't be enough. The Gamecocks got no closer than 12 down the stretch before dropping their second-straight game to finish the 2009 calendar year.
The Gamecocks will move to conference play this weekend, when they take on Eastern Illinois on Saturday in Charleston, Ill. The game with the Panthers will tip at 6 p.m. CT, right after the JSU women take on the Panthers.