Sweet 16 berth has Gamecocks thinking big

Sweet 16 berth has Gamecocks thinking big

Sweet 16 berth has Gamecocks thinking big

It wasn't the result of a lack of leadership.

Carolina kept its foot on the pedal as four more points from Thornwell pushed the lead to 86-69 at the final media timeout with 3:42 left in the game.

Of course, the political aspect of the site changing from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Greenville - HB2 - is well known by now, and it again became a major talking point after Duke and SC won their respective first-round games, setting up a virtual road game for the second-seeded Blue Devils.

The lack of a true point guard on the roster is not something that really had hurt Duke all that often the season, and it reached the point where that issue no longer seemed like a talking point with this team.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils have made 12 NCAA tournaments under Turner Thorne, but have advanced to the Sweet 16 just three times. He faced Duke's big men and went over top of them with a pair of slams, which helped the Gamecocks maintain their second half lead. How will the young guys like Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson, and Harry Giles respond to this kind of situation?

Duke was in control until losing a 10-point lead in three minutes to start the second half. The Blue Devils, though, could not surmount South Carolina's stifling defense.

The Ducks are led by ESPNW National Freshman of the Year Sabrina Ionescu (14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists), freshmen posts Ruthy Hebard (14.8 points, 8.5 rebounds) and Mallory McGwire (7.6 points, 4.3 rebounds) and sophomore sharpshooter Lexi Bando (10.3 points, 48.9 percent from three-point range). It ended with Luke Kennard fouled out. Varnado said the players came out sluggish and could not fight their way out of it. SC was held to 53 points in a loss to Alabama in the SEC tournament.

Thornwell had 24 points, Chris Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and Duane Notice had 17 points, 14 in a 65-point second half, as SC rallied from 10 points down for a second straight NCAA victory.

In the second half, SC shot 71.4 percent (20-28) from the floor and 91.3 percent (21-23) from the free throw line. More than that, they have new life with a trip out west and another week.

Even more fantastic, another perceived-as-middling SEC team, Arkansas, was achingly close to eliminating the ACC's other traditional kingpin, North Carolina. It was UCLA's 12th win over a No. 1 team, one behind North Carolina on the all-time list. The game was in Greenville, S.C., meaning that there wasn't a shortage of Gamecock fans in the building.

There are bracket busters in each tournament. "The ball's going to find who needed it at that time, and I just trust the system and trust the process".

It's on to the weekend that many consider the defining mark of a season.

The SEC Player of the Year put in arguably the best performance of the first round after he torched Marquette for 29 points on 10-19 shooting.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Cazorla and Bando made it a 15-point game with eight minutes remaining, and a 7-0 response from the Blue Devils led by Brown and senior Oderah Chidom was not enough to get Duke within striking distance. And they never used it as an excuse. It had only missed six shots at that point in the second half. "It will be because they played better defense than we played offense". And it shows that if you're not doing one of those, that means you never really became a team.

They were super-talented, but Coach K had himself a flawed roster, one that lacked a defensive backbone and a true point guard.

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