In one of the biggest wins for South Carolina men's hoops in recent years, the Gamecocks took out ninth-ranked Iowa St. in a neutral-site contest in Brooklyn. The final score was 64-60.
Coming into the game, the question was how Iowa St.'s high-powered offense would fare against the Gamecocks' stingy defense. The Gamecocks won that battle. The Cyclones averaged 84.5 points on 50.% shooting coming into the game. Carolina held ISU to only 60 points and 35.1% shooting. Carolina's perimeter defense was particularly effective, holding Iowa St. to a measly 1-18 from beyond the arc. This is a performance that should cement the perception that the Gamecocks have an elite defense.
As far as individual performances go, Duane Notice again led the Gamecocks in scoring with 15. Sindarius Thornwell, though, was the hero of the game, in my opinion. Thornwell struggled early on, but in crunch time, the Gamecocks star scored some big buckets and came up with huge steals that helped Carolina salt away the victory.
In the context of the season as a whole, the importance of this victory can't be overstated. Playing in a relatively weak conference, the Gamecocks won't have many opportunities when conference play starts for the kinds of marquee victories that impress the NCAA Tournament committee. This win over Iowa St. gives Carolina a very impressive victory to hold in its pocket when Selection Sunday rolls around. Obviously, there's a lot of ball to be played between now and then, but if Carolina continues its current pace and wins a lot of SEC games, this win could be one of the key pieces in the bid to finally make it back to the Big Dance.