The SEC Tournament began Wednesday night in Nashville. The No. 13 seed Ole Miss Rebels defeated the No. 12 seed South Carolina Gamecocks and the No. 14 seed LSU Tigers took down the No. 11 seed Georgia Bulldogs in the two first-round matchups.
In Game one, Ole Miss rode a big second half and 20 points off the bench from Amaree Abram to beat South Carolina 67-61. Jaemyn Brakefield scored 16 while playing all but one minute for the Rebels, and James White secured a double-double with 10 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
In the nightcap, LSU won just their third game against conference opponents all year as they defeated Georgia 72-67. LSU star forward KJ Williams led the Tigers with 18 points, while Trae Hannibal and Shawn Phillips both had double-doubles in the victory.
Ole Miss Outlasts South Carolina
The Rebels and Gamecocks played the opening game of the 2023 SEC Tournament in Nashville. They battled the whole 40 minutes as it was a neck-and-neck affair.
Abram, the freshman guard, led Ole Miss with 20 points in just 21 minutes. He shot 7-11 from the floor, including 5-8 from downtown. Brakefield, who is one of the leaders on this squad, scored 16 and added seven rebounds. As a team, the Rebels had a fantastic shooting night as they went 25-59 (42.4%) from the field and 9-22 (40.9%) from three-point range. They outrebounded South Carolina 41-31 in the game.
For the Gamecocks, freshman forward Gregory Jackson II led all scorers with 24 on 10-20 shooting. Meechie Johnson added 13 and Hayden Brown went for 11 in the loss.
With under five minutes to play, Abram knocked down back-to-back triples to give Ole Miss its largest lead of the game at 61-52.
South Carolina didn’t go down without a fight as they went on a 9-3 run after Abram’s threes. This cut the lead to just three. Ole Miss then scored the final five points of the game to close out the victory.
Ole Miss won by a final score of 67-61.
LSU Holds Off Georgia
The Tigers have not been able to hold leads often this season. In their final two losses to Missouri and Florida, they gave up double-digit advantages. This was not the case Wednesday as they were able to stave off a Georgia comeback in the second half.
Williams led LSU’s offense with 18 points, including going 8-8 from the free throw line. Three other Tigers scored in double figures to help secure a victory for LSU. Overall, the Bayou Bengals shot just 24-66 (36.4%) and 4-20 (20%) from long range.
Even with the tough shooting night, LSU held onto the ball well as they turned it over just five times. They also gave themselves lots of second-chance opportunities as they had 18 offensive rebounds.
Georgia had five players score at least 10 points. This includes senior center Braelen Bridges and junior guard Justin Hill who both scored 13 to lead the Bulldogs.
At the end of the first half, LSU was up 42-30 after a very clean first 20 minutes.
In the second, Georgia mounted an incredible comeback. They took the lead with just over four minutes to play after Jabri Abdur-Rahim made two free throws. The teams went back and forth in the next few minutes as it was tied at 67 with 1:10 left. Shawn Phillips then made a dunk and Williams hit a jumper to give LSU back the lead.
The Tigers scored the final five points to win 72-67.
Second Round Up Next
After their victory, Ole Miss will take on the fifth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers Thursday. These two matched up once during the regular season back on Dec. 28. Tennessee won that game 63-59. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
As for LSU, they will face the sixth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores. In their first game this season, the Tigers won 84-77 in a game that ended their 14-game losing streak. This game will be the nightcap Thursday at 9 p.m.