Gamecock Gameday: Carolina And Florida Meet In Elite Eight Sunday
March 25, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Led by four in double figures, including a game high 24 points from senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina posted a 70-50 victory over third-seeded Baylor on Friday night in Sweet 16 play to advance to Sunday’s Elite Eight matchup versus No. 4 seed Florida. South Carolina held Baylor to just 30.4% (17-56) from the field, while the Gamecocks connected on 23-of-50 (46.0%) attempts, including eight 3-point field goals in the win. The Gamecocks have now won three-straight and are 4-2 in neutral site contests this season.
GAMECOCK QUICK HITS
– South Carolina is in its 109th season of varsity basketball in 2016-17.
– On the sidelines, Frank Martin is joined by associate head coach Matt Figger, assistant coaches Perry Clark and Bruce Shingler, and director of operations Andy Assaley.
– South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is now 9-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games following Friday’s victory over Baylor. Martin’s first six wins in the postseason event came while he was the head coach at Kansas State. Martin also led his 2009-10 K-State squad to an Elite Eight appearance, while each season that Martin’s team have advanced to the NCAA Tournament it has won at least one game.
– With a win over Florida on Sunday, South Carolina will set a new school record for wins with 26 this season. The Gamecocks have had 25 wins three times, 1969-70, 2015-16 and 2016-17.
– With the Gamecocks selection to the NCAA Tournament this season it marks the first time that South Carolina has had back-to-back postseason bids (NIT in 2016) since Carolina advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and then the NIT in 2005 and 2006.
– South Carolina is 4-2 in neutral site contests this season, as the Gamecocks upset then-No. 18/16 Syracuse at the Barclays Center on Nov. 26, before suffering a three-point loss to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 12, a loss on March 10 to Alabama in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals in Nashville, and the NCAA Tourney wins over Marquette, Duke and Baylor.
– South Carolina faced Seton Hall earlier this season at Madison Square Garden, with the Pirates winning the contest, 67-64, on Dec. 12.
– Rookie guard Rakym Felder’s hometown is Brooklyn, he played high schools hoops at Lincoln High, where he averaged 16.0 points and six assists per game as a senior.
– Did you know? Frank Martin’s sister and her family live in Brooklyn and own several restaurants in the area.
– Since Frank Martin has taken over as head coach at Carolina, the Gamecocks are 4-1 in games played in New York City with wins over Manhattan, Iowa State and Syracuse at the Barclays Center, the loss to Seton Hall in December at Madison Square Garden and Friday’s victory over Baylor.
– Over the course of the last two seasons, Carolina is 8-3 in neutral site games.
– Senior Guard Sindarius Thornwell has pulled in several awards this postseason for his outstanding season on the court. He was named the SEC Player of the Year, as well as garnering All-SEC First Team and All-Defensive Team accolades from the league coaches. He was named a unanimous selection to the AP All-SEC First Team and he earned USBWA All-District III (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland) honors and he was named a Basketball Times Third Team All-American.
GAMECOCKS UPSET DUKE TO ADVANCE TO SWEET 16
Seventh-seeded South Carolina scored 65 second-half points in an upset win over the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils last Sunday to advance to its first Sweet 16 (current Tournament format) with an 88-81 victory. Carolina was led by five players in double figures, with senior guard Sindarius Thornwell once again leading the way with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. Sophomore forward Chris Silva tallied a career high 17 points, and notched his fourth double-double of the season also grabbing a team high 10 rebounds. It was South Carolina’s first win over its old ACC foe since Dec. 12, 1970.
Entering Sweet 16 action:
– Conference rival Florida earned the four seed after winning 24 games in the regular season.
– Florida and South Carolina split the regular season series, with each team winning on its home court.
– The Gators are coached by Mike White, who is in his second season with the program.
– Sophomore KeVaughn Allen leads the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game. Canyon Barry (11.8) and Devin Robinson (11.4) also average double-digit points per game.
– The team had to adjust after losing top rebounder John Egbunu (6.6 per game) in February. The junior went out with an injury against Auburn on Feb. 14.
– In the national rankings, Florida is 13th in scoring margin (+12.2) and 23rd in turnover margin (+3.1).
Journey through the Tourney
Defeated 13-seed East Tennessee State in Round 1, 80-65
Defeated 5-seed Virginia in Round 2, 65-39
Defeated 8-seed Wisconsin in Sweet 16, 84-83 in overtime
SERIES INFO: Florida leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 44-24 … the teams split the season series in 2017 SEC action, with each squad winning on its home court … the Gators won the most recent meeting, an 81-66 decision in Gainesville on Feb. 21 … Over the course of the last 10 games of the series, UF holds an 8-2 advantage … Frank Martin is 2-6 all-time versus Florida.
EARLIER THIS SEASON VS. FLORIDA:
Jan. 18 – 57-53 South Carolina win in Columbia
Behind 20 points from senior guard Sindarius Thornwell and an 11-point second half from sophomore forward Chris Silva, Carolina overcame hitting just 29.4 percent from the field to post a four-point victory over No. 19/21 Florida on Jan. 18 at Colonial Life Arena. The 57-53 win over the Gators was the second straight for South Carolina over its former SEC East rival. The Gamecock defense was stifling, holding Florida to 35.2% from the field, and 0-17 from 3-point range, breaking a streak of 850 straight games that UF had hit a 3. Thornwell would score 15 of his 20 in the second half.
Feb. 21 – 81-66 Florida win in Gainesville
Despite a 23-point, 10 rebound performance from senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina suffered its third-straight loss in an 81-66 decision at No. 13/12 Florida on Feb. 21 in Gainesville. Fellow senior guard Duane Notice was also in double-figures with 16 on the night. After not connecting for a 3-pointer in the first matchup between the two schools, Florida hit nine 3s and out-rebounded Carolina in the 15-point win.
BY THE NUMBERS
1.3 – Sophomore forward Chris Silva is averaging 1.3 blocks per game this season, which is a team high.
1.7 – PJ Dozier’s 1.7 steals per game is second on the team and ranks sixth in the SEC. Dozier has eight games this season with at least three steals, and collected a season high four steals vs. FIU and again vs. Alabama.
2.2 – Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell is averaging 2.2 steals per game this season, which leads the SEC and ranks 14th nationally.
2.4 – Thornwell’s 2.4 steals per game led the SEC in conference games this season. It marked the most steals per game in conference play by a Gamecock since Devan Downey averaged 2.5 per SEC game during the 2010 season. Additionally, it was the most seals per game in the SEC during league games since LSU’s Anthony Hickey averaged 2.8 during the 2013 league season.
2.982 – The Gamecocks excelled in the classroom during the fall semester, as the team posted a cumulative GPA of 2.982.
+4.0 – South Carolina leads the SEC and is sixth nationally with a turnover margin of +4.0.
5+ – Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell dished a team high five assists in Carolina’s 88-81 win over Duke in the NCAA Tournament second round, marking the 28th game of his career with five or more helpers.
6 – South Carolina committed just six turnovers in the win vs. A&M on Jan. 7, trying for the fewest in the Frank Martin era.
8-8 – Sophomore forward Chris Silva was a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe in the win over Auburn on Jan. 24.
13 – South Carolina’s 13 steals vs. FIU on Dec. 4 marked a season high in the category, surpassing the previous high of 12 vs. Syracuse.
13 – Senior guard Justin McKie scored a career high 13 points in the win over Auburn on Jan. 24. He hit 5-of-7 from the floor, including a career best 3-of-4 from range.
The winner of Sunday’s Elite Eight contest will advance to the NCAA Final Four in Phoenix next weekend, and will face the winner of the No. 1 seed Gonzaga versus No. 11 seed Xavier contest out of the West Region on April 1.