No. 22 Ole Miss beat South Carolina 66-57 in Oxford Wednesday night, and the Rebel sophomore poured in 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help lead the way.
"I wish we could play South Carolina every night, so he can play with that passion," said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy concerning Holloway's improved play.
The 6-foot-7 forward from Irmo, S.C., admitted the Gamecocks bring out his best.
"Playing South Carolina is a big thing for me," said Holloway, who hadn't been as productive in SEC games thus far as was the norm for him.
Holloway, who had six offensive and six defensive rebounds in this one, said it all started for him against the Gamecocks on the glass.
"Offensive rebounds got me going," he said. "I think that's what got the team going, too."
The Rebels needed a good night from Holloway, but they also got point production from several players. Chris Warrern led the way with 17 points, and in addition to Holloway's 14, Terrico White got 11 and Eniel Polynice 10.
Kennedy said Holloway did what this team needed on this night.
"That's the passion we have to have out of him every night," said Kennedy after his team improved to 14-4 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play. "He was very very active, and cleaned up a lot of misses, which is what we have to have. Murph did his job tonight."
The Rebels came out blazing. Ole Miss led by double digits for the first time when Warern hit a 3-pointer with 12:31 to go before halftime to make it 16-6.
At halftime the Rebels, who had led by as many as 16 points at 36-20 in that first half, were ahead 38-23.
The Rebels had held Gamecock superstar senior guard Devan Downey to nine first-half points. Kennedy, who coached Downey when both were at Cincinnati in 2005-06, said he knew they hadn't seen the best of Downey in the first half.
"We talked about it at halftime, and we knew that in order for them to win the game, he was going to have to take over the game," Kennedy said.
And Downey tried to do just that, scoring 16 second-half points with four steals and increasing his intensity during the final 20 minutes.
But South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn said it was too much Ole Miss out there for his team to pull out a win, although the Gamecocks did get within six points on a couple of occasions. But each time the Rebels had an answer.
"We dug too big a hole against a really good basketball team," Horn said, his team now 11-7 and 2-2. "They're deep and athletic. We made some adjustments at halftime, and our guys responded. But Ole Miss is so skilled and athletic, especially offensively. And Holloway was amazing on the offensive glass."
Ole Miss shot 46 percent (27-59) and held USC to 32 percent (18-56). From 3-point range the Rebels were 5-13 and South Carolina was 5-14. From the free throw line Ole Miss was 7-11 and the Gamecocks were 16-22.
Ole Miss won the battle of the boards 38-37.
After Downey's 25 points was Ramon Galloway with 11, the only other Gamecock in double figures.
The Rebels had lost in overtime at Tennessee last Saturday, had won at Georgia last Wednesday and had opened the SEC season with a loss at home to Mississippi State.
"I wasn't pleased with the way we finished (Wednesday night)," Kennedy said, "but a nine-point win in the SEC we'll take. We've stopped the bleeding and we move on from here."
Ole Miss is at LSU Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
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