NEW YORK — The South Carolina men’s basketball team’s improbable run continues … all the way to Arizona.
The No. 7 seed out of the East used yet another strong second-half effort to defeat No. 4 Florida, 77-70, Sunday afternoon and punch its ticket to the Final Four for the first time in program history. It’s also head coach Frank Martin’s first Final Four berth. South Carolina fought back from an eight-point deficit — just before halftime — in the defensive battle between SEC foes.
The Gamecocks, who sealed the victory with an emphatic dunk by Duane Notice, will face the No. 1 seed from the West, Gonzaga, next Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.
It’s been a wild ride to this point for South Carolina, a team that’s had more than its fair share of doubters over the past two weeks — from pundits thinking the Gamecocks were overseeded, to the shocked reaction of their upset of No. 2 Duke in the NCAA tournament’s second round. But there should be no more doubters now, even though they’ll retain their underdog label heading into the Final Four as the lowest remaining seed.
This South Carolina defense is stifling, frustrating and breathtaking in its effectiveness. Senior Sindarius Thornwell — an underappreciated star in a sport that skews toward freshman phonemes — is no longer the best player most fans haven’t heard about. He’s one of the best players remaining in the tournament, period.
Thornwell finished Sunday’s Elite Eight game with 26 points and seven rebounds.
NCAA TOURNEY ELITE 8 HIGHLIGHTS
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