Duke goes down: SC ousts Blue Devils from NCAA Tournament

Delia Watkins
March 21, 2017

USC now moves on to the Sweet 16 in NY - home of Frank McGuire, Kevin Joyce, Brian Winters and so many Gamecocks luminaries who did things no other USC squad had done until Sunday night.

And Sindarius Thornwell says he believes bigger things are ahead. "And I think we proved that", Turner Thorne said. I'm disappointed that we didn't win tonight.

The Gamecocks (24-10) seem capable of anything after this one.

After going into the locker room with a seven-point halftime lead, the second-seeded Blue Devils were blitzed in the second half by hot-shooting SC and sent home in disappointing fashion.

"They played a heck of a game", said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "We've got to use this motivation and fire we had before the game to come back hard" next year, the sophomore said.

The South Carolina Gamecocks are going to the first Sweet 16 in school history after a miraculous comeback against Duke. After a season when the prevailing consensus was that SEC basketball stank like a rotting fish, Southeastern Conference teams were stellar in the NCAA Tournament's first week.

"And score points", Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski interjected. Baylor held a 10-point lead late in the 1st half, however, needed a 11-5 run late in the game to hold off the Trojans after USC stormed back to tie the game with just 5:13 remaining. It shot just 20 percent from the floor, settled for too many threes, and trailed 30-23 at the break. They forced 18 turnovers against Duke while turning it over only 11 times themselves. If you didn't know the pairings, you would have sworn USC was the two seed and Duke was the seven seed.

At the outset of the second half, SC found its offense. The Pac-12's run is the most impressive considering it had four teams in the field of 68. SportsLine simulated the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four and title game 10,000-plus times, and No. 1 seed Gonzaga - a team that has never even made a Final Four - wins the title more often than all but one team.

"We've done it before".

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Rakym Felder then gave the Gamecocks their biggest lead so far in the game, 82-69, forcing another Wojciechowski timeout with 4:40 to play. Shots just didn't fall.

Duke's stay in the 2017 NCAA tournament was short-lived. "After just about every basket, they're going insane in the room". The Sun Devils jumped out to an 11 point lead early in the quarter through a Sabrina Brines three pointer. SC scored 23 points in the opening 20 minutes. "Aren't you glad I didn't do that?" This year, he has slowly built a Sweet 16 team in SC based around Thornwell and great defense. He led Kansas State to an Elite Eight appearance in 2010 - two years before former SC athletics director Eric Hyman hired him to take over a SC program in shambles. As they have all season all three played standout defense, too ... helping SC force eighteen Blue Devil turnovers. Senior forward Amile Jefferson finished with a double-double in the losing effort.

SC advances to the East region semifinal against No. 3 seed Baylor, set for 7:29 p.m. Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Almost 100 miles from uptown Charlotte, Duke and South Carolina tipped off for the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina. One shot at a time, they started to chip away at the deficit and put a few more on the board.

The law is viewed by many as being anti-LGBT, and the NCAA moved this weekend's games out of the state in order to show their opposition to the law.

"I'll probably be cheering under my breath", said Duke Fan Rodney Raegan.

Instead, almost 600 people packed the music hall.

North Carolina struggled to get past Arkansas. The restaurant on Central Avenue regularly hosts the Carolina Alumni Club, but gained an added boost with each Tar Heel win. However, prior to that game SC went 3-6 to close out the season and had only covered the spread in one of its last 10 contests.

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