The South Carolina Gamecocks won their first NCAA Tournament game in 44 years, and did it in style. Behind 29 points for Sindarius Thornwell - 19 in the second half - they ousted 10th-seeded Marquette by a 93-73 count, their most points scored in an NCAA Tournament game in program history.
Three quick thoughts from the evening:
- The Gamecocks settled for the three-point basket far too early and fell behind as a result. When they began getting the ball inside and attacking the rim, they started to climb back into it. Unfortunately, Marquette wasn’t missing from outside - the top three-point shooting team in the country ended the first half going 8-16. They did have three players with two fouls in the opening 20 minutes, which worked in the Gamecocks’ favor going into the second.
- The Gamecocks found the most success when driving the rack and eventually turned a 49-44 deficit into a 57-49 lead thanks to a 13-0 run. Carolina’s defense stepped it up throughout the second and forced a total of 19 Marquette turnovers in the game, using those miscues to keep the Golden Eagles at arm’s length. But the turning point of the game was a 22-4 run, paced by 10 points by Sindarius Thornwell and capped by a PJ Dozier 3 as the shot clock wound down, to give the Gamecocks a 92-69 lead with just over two minutes remaining.
- How good is Sindarius Thornwell? When the team needed him the most, he delivered as he does every single time out. The senior sparked the late-game 22-4 run and showed why he was the SEC player of the year. To go with his 29 points, he added 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. PJ Dozier had a strong second half as well as he added 21 for the game. Rah Felder and Justin McKie had good games off the bench, an encouraging sign as the team moves on.
Next up: The second-seeded Duke Blue Devils, Sunday at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville. Tip-off is set for approximately 8:45/9:00 on TNT, after North Carolina/Arkansas at 6:10.