At the start of the tournament, the 7th-seed South Carolina Gamecocks haven’t won an NCAA tournament game since 1972. Now the Gamecocks are headed all the way to the Final Four for the first time in program history. South Carolina continued its rampage through the NCAA Tournament after beating Marquette in the first round, Duke in the Round of 32, Baylor in the Sweet 16, and now knocking off Florida  77-70 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday in the Elite 8. The Gamecocks will face Number 1-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday in Phoenix for a spot in the national title game.

The SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks to the victory as he scored 26 points to take his home-state school to a place that many could not have envisioned for many years. The Gators did well in the first 20 minutes, shooting 58 percent on 3-pointers in the first half, but went 0-for-12 in the second after facing an aggressive zone, the adjustment by coach Frank Martin that turned out to be the key that changed the game.

Guard PJ Dozier, who has struggled from the free-throw line late in the season, made a pair to push the lead to four, A Chris Silva free throw extended it to five, but Florida’s KeVaughn Allen converted a three-point play to make it a 70-68 game. Senior guard Duane Notice, who struggled throughout the game, made a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 72-68, and then Thornwell lead-passed the ball to Notice, who put an exclamation point on the game with a thunderous one-handed open-court dunk off a PJ Dozier steal giving the Gamecocks a 77-70 lead with 11 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

During their Tournament run, South Carolina has trailed at halftime in 3 of its 4 games in this NCAA Tournament. However, they have outscored opponents by 54 points in the second half. Looking forward to the semi-final game against Gonzaga, the Gamecocks look to continue their second-half dominance against teams this tournament, as they cannot afford to fall too far behind a team like Gozaga. It can be expected that Thornwell will look to continue to lead this team as he is only 27 points away from passing former Arkansas Guard Corliss Willamson as the highest-scoring SEC player in a single tournament.

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