Defense wins championships.
The South Carolina Gamecocks will play in the Elite Eight for the first time in school history after a dominant defensive performance in Madison Square Garden. Carolina turned up the heat mid-way through the second half to build a big lead and cruise to a 70-50 win.
Three quick thoughts on the game:
- South Carolina dominated the first half of the game on defense. A 16-0 run mid-way through the first 20 minutes set up a 15 point halftime lead. The Carolina defense was everywhere. Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar doubled Motley most of half while Sindarius Thornwell, Rakym Felder and Duane Notice chased around the perimeter. Baylor rarely had an open look in the first half, shooting only 25 percent from the floor. The 22 points at halftime matched their lowest total of any half this season.
- The Gamecocks came out of halftime and continued to own the floor. The first five minutes were crucial and Carolina ended up leading by 21 at the 15 minute mark. They turned over the Bears four times in the first six minutes of the second half. The Gamecocks then however went over four minutes without a point and Baylor cut the lead to 11. The seniors then stepped up as Thornwell and Notice nailed three pointers to push the lead back to 17 with under ten minutes remaining.
- After Thornwell and Notice answered Baylor’s run, the Gamecocks took the lead back up to 20 with five minutes remaining. Carolina controlled the game from there, never giving Baylor a chance down the stretch. Thornwell (24), Dozier (12) and Silva (12) and Notice (11) were all in double figures. Rakym Felder added nine points off the bench. While the offense exploded in the first two wins of the tournament, it was all about the Carolina defense tonight, holding Baylor to only 50 points and 30 percent from the floor. Arguably the best post player in the nation, Johnathan Motley led the way for Baylor, scoring 18 points.
Next up: On Sunday, South Carolina will take on the winner of Wisconsin and Florida for a trip to the Final Four in Arizona.