Huge second half surge catapults Gamecocks into Sweet 16
Most of Sunday’s action featured some close shave finishes, but only one big upset. That took place in Greenville, South Carolina as Sindarius Thornwell torched the Duke Blue Devils for 24 points and six rebounds. As a team, South Carolina scored a 1990 Loyola Marymount total of 61 points in the second half to end Duke’s rather up-and-down roller coaster type of a season by a final score of 87-81.
South Carolina did not start out well, hitting only 7-of-35 attempts from the floor during the first 20 minutes. The Gamecocks missed 20 of their last 22 attempts to trail 30-23 at the break.
Another telling stat from this game was the defensive pressure applied by South Carolina. 18 turnovers proved to be Duke’s ultimate undoing.
Leading scorer Luke Kennard had his second straight subpar shooting game, finishing 1 of 6 for 11 points before fouling out in the second half. The Blue Devils made five of eight attempts from three in the first half, yet they only made 5 of 19 after the break.
Somehow, Chris Silva was not going to be denied. He scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and his ten rebounds were huge in holding Amile Jefferson to only 14 points. Grayson Allen led the way in a losing cause for Duke with 20 points.
Next up for South Carolina this coming Friday night in New York is Baylor, who outlasted a gutsy effort by USC 82-78 in Tulsa.
Other action from second round
In Indianapolis, the magic season of Michigan continues as they upended the second seed from the Midwest in Louisville 73-69. A similar pattern happened in the second game as Kentucky had just enough weapons to get past Wichita State and in the process halt their 15 game winning streak. That final was 65-62 in favor of Kentucky.
In the Tulsa pod, Josh Jackson lit up the Spartans for 23 as Kansas toppled Michigan State 90-70 ending a major streak for Tom Izzo reaching at least the Sweet 16 round.
In Greenville, Arkansas led by three late in the second half but was held scoreless over the final three minutes as North Carolina barely escaped with a 72-65 close shave win. Next up for the top seeded Tar Heels is Butler in Memphis on Friday.
Finally in Sacramento, Oregon got a three pointer from Tyler Dorsey with 38 seconds left to overpower the tough Rhode Island Rams 75-72.
The final game had Lonzo Ball become a one-man wrecking crew for UCLA as he deposited 18 points to go along with seven rebounds in a nice second half comeback win over Cincinnati 79-67 in Sacramento. The Bruins outscored the Bearcats 49-34 in the second half.
Here is your TV assignments for the Sweet 16 round. All games will air also on Westwood One and each game is streamed individually on the TuneIn app:
First up is the Regional Semifinal schedule for Thursday:
CBS Midwest Regional–Sprint Center Kansas City, Missouri
7:09 p.m. Eastern–Oregon vs. Michigan (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson)
9:39 p.m.–Purdue vs. Kansas
TBS West Regional–Cow Palace San Jose, Calfornia
7:39 p.m.–West Virginia vs. Gonzaga (Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lewis Johnson)
10:09 p.m.–Xavier (the last double digit seed remaining) vs. Arizona
CBS South Regional–The Pyramid Memphis, Tennessee
7:09 p.m.–Butler vs. North Carolina (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)
9:39 p.m.–UCLA vs. Kentucky
TBS East Regional–Madison Square Garden, New York
7:29 p.m.–South Carolina vs. Baylor (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)
9:59 p.m.–Wisconsin vs. Florida
As for my picks, I went 13-3 in the second round. Only one of my Final Four picks has completely crumbled in Duke. Overall, I am 37-11 with only two Sweet 16 spots as no good–the other being Louisville.
Please have a good night and a great week ahead.