Monday, March 20, 2017
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Sindarius Thornwell had 24 points, Chris Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and No. 7-seed South Carolina stunned No. 2-seed Duke 88-81 on Sunday night to advance to its first Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament's expanded bracket.
The Gamecocks (24-10) trailed by 10 points early in the second half after one of its coldest shooting stretches of the season to start. But behind Thornwell's outside shooting and Silva's dominance underneath, South Carolina rallied to win two NCAA games for the first time in 44 years.
The Gamecocks rushed to their fans when things were over, celebrating one of the biggest victories in program history.
Next up is the East Regional at Madison Square Garden where the Gamecocks will face No. 3-seed Baylor, an 82-78 winner over Southern Cal earlier Sunday.
Duke (28-9) was attempting to reach the round of 16 for the sixth time in eight seasons. The Blue Devils, though, could not surmount South Carolina's stifling defense. Leading scorer Luke Kennard had his second consecutive subpar shooting game, finishing 1 of 6 for 11 points before fouling out.
The Blue Devils made five of their eight three-point attempts in the first half, yet only 5 of 19 after the break. They had tied a season high with 18 turnovers against the relentless Gamecocks attack.
Duane Notice had 17 points for South Carolina, 14 in the second half. Silva added 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double this season.
Grayson Allen led Duke with 20 points.
It sounded like typical coach hyperbole when Duke's Mike Krzyzewski said the Gamecocks would be the best defensive team his club has faced this season. That proved out in the first half as the Blue Devils were continually disrupted by South Carolina's pressure and coughed the ball up 13 times after averaging only 11 turnovers a game this season.
The Blue Devils did not make a basket after Matt Jones' three-pointer with 5:38 to play, their only points coming on Allen's foul shots in the final minute before the break.
Duke did its share to thwart the Gamecocks on defense, too, holding South Carolina to 7-of-35 shooting the first 20 minutes. The Gamecocks missed 20 of their last 22 shots to fall behind 30-23 at the break.
The Blue Devils had lived by the three-pointer much of the season and when those didn't fall in the second half, it cost them. They will certainly be a different looking team next year with seniors like Jones and Amile Jefferson finishing up and freshmen like Jayson Tatum considering the NBA.
The Gamecocks had not won an NCAA Tournament game in 44 years coming into the weekend. Now, they're looking to advance to the Elite Eight with another victory. Quite a turn for a team that had lost five of its last seven games before the NCAAs.
BAYLOR 82,SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 78
TULSA -- Johnathan Motley had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 3-seed Baylor defeated No. 11-seed Southern California.
Terry Maston scored 19 points, King McClure added 17 and Manu Lecomte scored all 12 of his points in the final 5 minutes for the Bears (27-7), who advanced to play South Carolina in the Sweet 16.
Chimezie Metu scored 28 points and Bennie Boatwright added 16 for USC (26-10), which was trying to make its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2007. The Trojans had rallied from second-half deficits to win their first two NCAA Tournament games.
A four-point play by Lecomte put the Bears up 69-67. Lecomte, who hadn't scored the entire game, scored eight points in 45 seconds to put the Bears up 73-67, and Baylor led the rest of the way.
The Trojans posted a school record with 26 victories and they have no senior starters. Coach Andy Enfield has reinvigorated the program since arriving on campus in 2013. Last season's trip to the NCAA Tournament was the school's first since 2011. The Trojans were trying to become the fourth team that played in the First Four to reach the Sweet 16.
The Bears got off to a 20-1 start and were ranked No. 1 in the country before reeling down the stretch. They got back on track in a 91-73 victory over New Mexico State in the first round. They went back to their recipe for success -- physical dominance -- by outrebounding the Trojans 34-23 on Sunday.
Sports on 03/20/2017
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