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giftedviz.com March 23, 2017


For One Night, South Carolina Basketball Is the Toast of the Nation

21 March 2017, 02:33 | Ross Houston

South Carolina earns first NCAA victory in 44 years

SEC gets chance to make a statement vs. ACC on Sunday

Kennard said his team has been in hard environments before "and we've won games like that".

In the season's final game, the Blue Devils surrendered 88 points to a SC team that ranked 124th in offensive efficiency. Additionally, the ACC, which was the most represented conference in the top 50 of BPI, was able to get only one of its nine teams to the second weekend. North Carolina ended the game on a 12-0 run, however, and Arkansas became the second SEC team knocked out of the tournament. The Gamecocks men's basketball team hadn't won a tournament game since 1973.

The Gamecocks got basket after basket, almost tripling their first-half output as they put up an eye-popping 65 points in the second half-by far the most Duke allowed in a half this season.

Before blowing out Marquette 93-73 in the first round a few days, SC hadn't won an NCAA tournament game since that '73 trip to the Sweet 16.

It wasn't just losing. It started his run of eight points in 45 seconds, and third-seeded Baylor never trailed again. The Seminoles were seen as a Final Four sleeper pick due to their size and athleticism.

That anger led to a 73-61 demolition of Michigan State in Friday's first round that wasn't almost as competitive as the final score suggests, and that anger led to a repeat performance against the 1-seed South Carolina Gamecocks.

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Losses by Notre Dame in the second round, Virginia Tech in the first and Wake Forest in the opening round were closer but added to the totals. And when they were asked about this season being defined by its unfulfilled potential, they pointed to that accomplishment as evidence to the contrary. Duke couldn't make them pay because it coughed up 13 turnovers, leading to 10 SC points, almost half of its anemic first-half total.

The tournament didn't produce many shocking early results. Those second-chance opportunities are huge on nights when the team's shooting is below average.

Turner Thorne and Staley both agreed Arizona State deserved higher than an eighth seed and this matchup shouldn't have happened in the second round. It was a rematch of the 2014 game when eighth-seeded Kentucky ended top-seeded Wichita State's ideal season in the second round. I wish I could keep coaching them this year.

And before an early-December win over Florida at Madison Square Garden, a game in which Tatum first made his presence known, we were left wondering if we'd ever get to see the stacked lineup we'd been promised before the season. Here come No. 3 Baylor, No. 4 Florida, No. 7 SC and No. 8 Wisconsin. There were times where their offense would get bogged down, like in each of the final three ACC tournament games that they played, but eventually Duke's talent would take over. The Badgers play in the Big Ten and are headed to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season, so it wasn't exactly a David-and-Goliath scenario.

But the Badgers' Nigel Hayes put it well on Saturday after the victory. "The thing is with all those algorithms, they can't calculate heart, will to win, toughness, desire". When we thought it was time to pull the plug on the hype train, they'd find a way to win games they didn't have any business winning.

But after that mighty league got a whopping nine teams into the big dance, only one is left entering the Sweet 16, and Duke isn't one of them. Louisville, Notre Dame and Florida State wouldn't have been surprises to reach the Final Four.



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