Tuesday night’s game at Colonial Life Arena turned into one of the most stirring games in South Carolina men’s basketball history. But the Alabama Crimson Tide were the ones left standing with the victory in a 90-86 four-overtime marathon that was one for the history books.
South Carolina simply wasn’t making shots after the halfway point of the first half. The Gamecocks went 11:32 of game action without a field goal - missing nineteen straight from the floor - finally hitting one with 1:09 played in the second half thanks to a Sindarius Thornwell layup to make it 32-18. South Carolina’s shooting (namely Thornwell’s shooting) came around as the Bama lead shrunk to 48-40 with 8:53 left, but another cold spell later in the half (a 6:30+ stretch without a field goal and a nearly three-minute stretch without a single point), coupled with poor field goal shooting, helped the Tide keep the Gamecocks at arms’ length.
Ballgame, right? Not quite.
The Gamecocks mounted a massive 15-3 run to turn a 54-42 game into a 57-57 tie with eight seconds left following a driving layup (and missed free throw) by Thornwell. Alabama had a chance to win, but Avery Johnson Jr.’s last-second attempt was off the mark as the game headed to overtime. But three overtimes weren’t enough: after Bama opened up a 82-77 lead in the third extra session, a Dozier three cut it to 82-80 with 1:26 left, followed by a pair of made FTs by Thornwell to send it to quadruple overtime tied at 82 a piece. The Tide grabbed a 88-86 lead with 55 seconds left following two Riley Norris free throws, then stretched it to the final margin of 90-86 after Norris hit two more after a pair of missed threes by Duane Notice.
The South Carolina loss spoiled a career performance by Sindarius Thornwell. The senior scored 44 points in 56 minutes, tying him for fourth all-time in points scored in a single game by a Gamecocks player. He also went 21-33 from the line, with his 33 free throw attempts the most in SEC history and two more than LSU legend Hall of Famer Pistol Pete Maravich’s 31 in 1969.
Sindarius Thornwell: 1st player in the last 20 seasons with 40 points, 10 offensive rebounds & 10 defensive rebounds in a game.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 8, 2017
It will be hard for the Gamecocks (or anyone) to top this thriller. The good news despite the loss? They have a few days to rest before their next game, a Saturday night contest against Mississippi State. Tip off in Starkville is set for 8:30 ET on ESPN2.