Feb. 7, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 19/16 South Carolina (19-5, 9-2 SEC) fell short, 90-86, in a four-overtime contest at Colonial Life Arena to Alabama (14-9, 7-4 SEC) Tuesday night. Senior Sindarius Thornwell tallied career-highs with 44 points and 21 rebounds. He also made 25 free throws, marking a new South Carolina record, and an SEC record in league contests.
The Crimson Tide took advantage of a poor shooting start for the Gamecocks (0-for-7), jumping out to a 10-2 lead at the first media timeout with 15:17 left. They extended the lead to 17-5 with 11:26 left after a 7-0 run. Carolina still couldn’t buy a bucket, going 1-for-10 to that point. Alabama started 6-for-11 (55 percent) with 10 points in the paint.
The lead remained in double-digits for the Crimson Tide, as they were in front 23-10 at the next media timeout with 7:36 left. Alabama’s attack was balanced early on as seven different players scored.
The shooting woes continued for the Gamecocks, as the Crimson Tide took their biggest lead of the first half, 28-11, with 3:20 to go. Carolina was unable to breakthrough in the final three minutes of the half, and trailed 32-16 at the break.
The Gamecocks’ 16 first half points were a new season-low as they were held without a field goal the final 10:23 in the opening half. Thornwell led Carolina with 5 points after going 5-for-6 from the free throw line. Alabama had a 27-19 edge on the glass and outscored the Gamecocks 16-4 in the paint.
South Carolina trimmed the deficit to 11 with just under 17 minutes and trailed 37-24 at the first media timeout of the second half with 15:47 to go. Thornwell had six of the team’s first eight points of the second set. The lead remained in double-figures, 46-34, at the under 12 media timeout. Senior Duane Notice knocked down a free throw then corralled his own miss and found Thornwell, who drilled a 3 as the Gamecocks used the four-point swing to trim the deficit to single digits, 48-40 with 10:08 to go.
The lead went back to 10, 50-40, at the under eight media timeout with 7:26 left. It remained 10, 54-44, at the final media timeout. Two free throws by Chris Silva brought Carolina within six, 55-49, with 2:30 to go. The Gamecocks continued to chip away at the lead after Thornwell spun to the hoop and scored from the right block with 1:59 left in the game, forcing Alabama head coach Avery Johnson to take a timeout, his team up 55-51.
Two Thornwell free throws made it 55-53 with 47 seconds left. Alabama’s Shannon Hale missed the front end of a 1-and-1, as Carolina got the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead with 24.5 seconds left. Thornwell slashed to the basket and made an incredible shot as he was met with contact by two Crimson Tide defenders, drawing a foul with 13.3 seconds left. He missed the ensuing free throw and Johnson took a timeout with 8.3 seconds left. Avery Johnson Jr. missed at the end of regulation, and Thornwell tipped out the rebound as the team’s headed to the first of four overtime periods tied at 57-57 after the Gamecocks erased a 16-point halftime deficit.
The teams went back-and-forth in the first overtime period. Alabama took a 62-61 lead with 2:58 to go. Thornwell then got to the line on the ensuing possession and put Carolina ahead 63-62 with 2:44 to go. Hale would hit 1-of-2 to tie it up at 63-63 with 1:40 left. Each team had two chances down the stretch but was unable to capitalize as the score remained 63-63.
In the second overtime, the Gamecocks jumped out to a 70-63 lead behind five points from sophomore PJ Dozier. The Crimson Tide then rattled off eight-straight points to take a 71-70 lead after a Johnson Jr. layup with 48 seconds left. Thornwell then scored and Johnson Jr. answered with a 3 on the other end to put Alabama ahead 74-72 with 19 seconds left. Thornwell attacked the hoop and scored the equalizer with four seconds remaining to send the game to the third overtime tied at 74-74.
Alabama pushed out to a five point lead in the third overtime period 82-77, forcing Frank Martin to take a timeout with 1:44 to play. Dozier nailed a huge 3 from the left wing out of the timeout to make it 82-80 with 1:26 to go. Thornwell got to the line again with 23 seconds left and made two to tie the contest at 82-82. UA’s Corban Collins bid for a game-winning 3 fell short and the teams headed to the fourth extra period.
The fourth overtime went back-and-forth again as the team’s exchanged buckets in the first three minutes. Dozier was called for his fifth foul, sending Riley Norris to the free throw line with 55 seconds left and the game tied 86-86. Norris hit both to make it 88-86. Notice got up two solid looks from behind the arc, but he was unable to convert at the opposite end. Norris hit another pair of free throws to make it 90-86 with 18 seconds left. Carolina missed two 3s on its final possession of the game, as the Crimson tied held on for the four-point win.
Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell set the SEC record for made free throws in a conference game with 25 vs. the Crimson Tide. He broke a record held by LSU’s Pete Maravich of 22 made free throws in a game vs. Florida in 1969.
- The game vs. Alabama marked the first time that South Carolina has played in a game that went to four overtimes. The Gamecocks had previously played in just one triple OT game.
- Thornwell’s 25 made free throws and 33 attempts were both South Carolina school records.
- Thornwell’s 44 points marked the first 40-point game by a Gamecock since Michael Foster had 40 in a win vs. Vanderbilt on Dec. 28, 1986 in New Orleans. That game was a double-overtime contest.
- Thornwell’s 44 points marked the most in a game by a Carolina player since Cedrick Hordges had 44 vs. Biscayne on Dec. 1, 1979.
- Thornwell’s 21 rebounds marked the first 20-rebound game by a Gamecock since Emmett Hall pulled down 23 vs. the College of Charleston on Dec. 22, 1993.
- The 21 rebounds by Thornwell were the most by a player in the SEC this season, and tied for the 15th-most by any player nationally (games played through Feb. 6).
- Thornwell becomes the first Gamecock to record two games with at least 30 points in a season since Devan Downey had six games with 30 or more points during the 2009-10 campaign.
South Carolina travels to Mississippi State this weekend to face the Bulldogs at Humphrey Coliseum in an 8 p.m. ET matchup on Saturday. The contest will be televised on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins (analyst) and Dalen Cuff (analyst) on the call.
TWEET OF THE GAME