March 30, 2017
GLENDALE, Ariz. – South Carolina’s historic March run continues on Saturday evening, as the Gamecocks (26-10) square off with No. 1 seed Gonzaga (36-1) in the 2017 Final Four. Both schools will be making their first National Semifinal appearances. Carolina got to the desert after downing No. 4 seed Florida (27-9) in the Elite Eight at Madison Square Garden last Sunday.
The Gamecocks outscored the Gators by 14 in the second half, holding them to 30 percent shooting and 0-for-14 from 3 in the game’s final 20 minutes. Senior Sindarius Thornwell had a game-high 26 points and was one of four players in double figures for Carolina. The Lancaster, S.C., native, was named the NCAA East Regional’s Most Outstanding Player. He was also on the East Regional All-Tournament team along with sophomore PJ Dozier. The Gamecocks have knocked off three top-20 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
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 10-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games following Sunday’s win over Florida. 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 the win over Florida on Sunday, South Carolina 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 5-2 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, Baylor and Florida.
– Over the course of the last two seasons, Carolina is 9-3 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.
– Gonzaga is coached by Mark Few, now in his 18th season leading the Bulldogs. He has a career record of 502-112 at GU.
– Though the team rose to fame through Cinderella runs in the tournament, the Bulldogs are more than battle-tested when it comes to postseason play. The program has made the NCAA tournament every year since 1999, and has made at least the Sweet 16 round for three straight seasons. This, however, is the first time that Gonzaga has made the Final Four.
– Now riding a seven-game win streak, Gonzaga enters the matchup with South Carolina at 36-1 overall. Since the 2010-11 season, no other program in the country has a better record than Gonzaga (205-39, .840).
– The team’s 36 wins this season are a new program record. Gonzaga is one of just four teams in the country to shoot better than 50 percent from the field so far this season.
– On the other side of the court, the GU defense ranks second in the nation in field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to just 36.5 percent through 37 games.
– Gonzaga is led by a veteran group of players, with four seeing time in over 100 career games. Przemek Karnowski leads the team with 149 career games played, 115 starts.
– Behind the best scoring margin in the country (+22.3), Gonzaga has four players averaging double-figure points per game. Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss leads the team with 16.7 points per game, followed by Karnowski at 12.2.
– Williams-Goss is the West Coast Conference player of the year; in total there were three Gonzaga players who made the conference’s postseason first team.
Journey through the Tourney
Defeated 16-seed South Dakota State in Round 1, 91-73
Defeated 8-seed Northwestern in Round 2, 79-73
Defeated 4-seed West Virginia in the Sweet 16, 61-58
Defeated 11-seed Xavier in the Elite 8, 83-59
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.
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.
20+ – Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell’s 19 20-point games this season mark the most 20-point games in a campaign since Devan Downey also had 19 20-point efforts during the 2009-10 season.
23 – South Carolina dished a season high 23 assists in the Jan. 24 win over Auburn. It is the third-most ever during the Frank Martin era.
25 – The 25 turnovers by Texas A&M were an opponent high this season. It was the most turnovers in a game by a Carolina opponent since SE Louisiana committed 26 turnovers on Dec. 21, 2011.
34 – South Carolina scored a season high 34 points off of 22 LSU turnovers in the win at the Maravich Center on Feb. 1.
50.6% – South Carolina collects an assist on 50.6 percent of its made baskets this season (455/898). Carolina dished 17 assists in the NCAA First Round matchup vs. Marquette, led by four each from senior guard Justin McKie and sophomore guard PJ Dozier.
51 – South Carolina has out-scored its opponent in points in the paint in 51 of the last 68 games dating back to last season. The Gamecocks are 42-9 in those games, including an 18-6 mark this season when scoring more points in the paint than its opponent.
The advancing team from Sunday’s first Final Four matchup faces the winner of No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 3 seed Oregon in the National Championship game on Monday night. Tipoff for the title game is set for 9 p.m. ET with Jim Nantz (pxp), Grant Hill (color), Bill Rafferty (color) and Tracy Wolfson on the call for CBS