South Carolina headed to its first Final Four


At the start of the tournament, the seventh seeded South Carolina Gamecocks hadn’t won a NCAA tournament game since 1972, Now, the Gamecocks are headed to the Final Four for the first time in program history. They continued their rampage through the NCAA Tournament after beating tenth seeded Marquette in the first round, second seeded Duke in the round of 32, third seeded Baylor in the sweet 16 by knocking off fourth seeded Florida  77-70 at Madison Square Garden. The Gamecocks will face number one seeded Gonzaga on Saturday in Phoenix for a spot in the national title game.

The SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell, lead the Gamecocks to the victory as he scored 26 points to take his home-state school to a place that many couldn’t have envisioned for years.

The Gators did well in the first half, shooting 58% on three-pointers, but went 0-for-12 in the second half while facing an aggressive zone defense. That adjustment by coach Frank Martin turned out to be the key factor that changed the game. South Carolina guard PJ. Dozier, who has struggled from the free-throw line late in the season, made a pair to push the lead to four. A Chris Silva free throw extended it to five, but Florida’s KeVaughn Allen converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to two. Senior Guard Duane Notice, who struggled throughout the game made a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 72-68. Thornwell found Notice off a Dozier steal, Notice put an exclamation point on the game with a thundering one handed open-court dunk. That put South Carolina ahead  77-70 with 11 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

During their run through the tournament, South Carolina has trailed at halftime in three of its four games. On the flip side, they’ve outscored opponents by 54 points in the second half.

Looking forward to their semifinal matchup with Gonzaga, the Gamecocks look to continue their  trend of second-half dominance. The danger in this is falling into a false sense of security in the first half, they can’t afford to fall into too deep of a whole against Gonzaga. Thornwell will try and continue to lead this team in the next round. He is 27 points shy from passing former Arkansas player Corliss Willamson as the highest scorer from an SEC school in a single tournament. 

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