Rushed Reactions: #7 South Carolina 88, #2 Duke 81Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 19th, 2017
RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) is in Greenville this weekend.
Three Key Takeaways.
- After a terrible offensive performance in the first half, South Carolina had another second half explosion. It was a repeat of Friday’s win over Marquette when it scored 54 second half points. Despite holding Duke to 30 points in 33 first half possessions, the Gamecocks were still down seven at the break because they shot 20 percent from the floor. But the change of baskets after intermission did wonders for the South Carolina aim. They connected on 20 of their 28 shots in the second stanza for 71.4 percent shooting. Additionally, the Gamecocks were great at the foul line–icing the game away by making 21-of-23 from the stripe in the second half. South Carolina put up 65 points after intermission in a complete turnaround that propelled the Gamecocks to victory.
- Overall, South Carolina did a great job containing Duke’s explosive offense. The Blue Devils looked rattled for much of the first half, committing 13 turnovers. About midway through the opening stanza Frank Martin went to a zone, which stood up the Duke offense and forced many of those miscues. It was more of the same after the break. For the game, South Carolina forced Duke into 18 turnovers and 41.5 percent field goal shooting. The result: South Carolina held one of the nation’s best offenses to 1.07 points per possession and the preseason #1 ranked Blue Devils end the year in disappointing fashion.
- Sindarius Thornwell is a bona fide stud. Earlier in the week, Mike Krzyzewski called him one of the nation’s least known great players. Maybe America will know who he is now as the senior forward displayed his versatility on both ends of the floor. He finished with a game-high 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. Thornwell, a member of the SEC All-Defensive Team, also deserves praise for his work against Duke’s star Luke Kennard. He was a primary reason that Kennard finished with just 11 points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field. And there’s no question that his play raises the level of his teammates’ confidence as well.
Player of the Game. Sindarius Thornwell. See Above!
- “That was the toughest defense we’ve played all year. It was the most physical game we’ve been in all year.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski praising South Carolina’s performance.
- “I’m unbelievably proud of these guys. They’ve become as mentally tough as mentally tough can be.” – South Carolina coach Frank Martin, on how his squad pulled off the upset.
- “One possession at a time. Just finish the game.” – South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell, on the team’s focus down the stretch.
Sights and Sounds. It was an ACC/SEC double-header tonight in Greenville, but conference affiliation was a one-way street in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena neighborhood. It appeared that Arkansas and South Carolina supporters cheered for their league brethren, but Duke and North Carolina die-hard fans can never pull one another. The bitter nature of that rivalry does not allow conference allegiance to matter.
What’s Next? South Carolina advances to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1973, where it will face #3 Baylor in the East Regional semifinals in New York City on Friday.