Sindarius Thornwell had 24 points, Chris Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and seventh-seeded South Carolina stunned No. 2 seed Duke 88-81 on Sunday night to advance to its first Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament’s expanded bracket.
The Gamecocks (24-10) trailed by 10 points early in the second half after one of its coldest shooting stretches of the season to start. But behind Thornwell’s outside shooting and Silva’s dominance underneath, South Carolina rallied to win two NCAA games for the first time in 44 years.
The Gamecocks rushed to their fans when things were over, celebrating one of the biggest wins in program history.
Next up is the East Regional at Madison Square Garden where the Gamecocks will face third-seeded Baylor, an 82-78 winner over Southern Cal earlier Sunday. Wisconsin, which knocked off top seed Villanova on Saturday, faces Florida in the other regional semifinal.
Duke (28-9) was attempting to reach the round of 16 for the sixth time in eight seasons. The Blue Devils, though, could not surmount South Carolina’s stifling defense. Leading scorer Luke Kennard had his second straight subpar shooting game, finishing 1 of 6 for 11 points before fouling out.
The Blue Devils made five of their eight 3-point attempts in the first half, yet only 5 of 19 after the break.
They had tied a season high with 18 turnovers against the relentless Gamecocks attack.
Duane Notice had 17 points for South Carolina, 14 in the second half. Silva added 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double this season.
Grayson Allen led Duke with 20 points.
It sounded like typical coach hyperbole when Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski said the Gamecocks would be the best defensive team his club has faced this season. That proved out in the first half as the Blue Devils were continually disrupted by South Carolina’s pressure and coughed the ball up 13 times after averaging only 11 turnovers a game this season.
The Blue Devils did not make a basket after Matt Jones’ 3-pointer with 5:38 to play, their only points coming on Allen’s foul shots in the final minute before the break.
Duke did its share to thwart the Gamecocks on defense too, holding South Carolina to 7-of-35 shooting the first 20 minutes. The Gamecocks missed 20 of their last 22 shots to fall behind 30-23 at the break.
(3) Baylor 82, (11) Southern Cal 78: Johnathan Motley had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead Baylor. Terry Maston scored 19 points, King McClure added 17 and Manu Lecomte scored all 12 of his points in the final 5 minutes for the Bears (27-7), who advanced to play South Carolina in the Sweet 16.
Chimezie Metu scored 28 points and Bennie Boatwright added 16 for USC (26-10), which was trying to make its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2007. The Trojans had rallied from second-half deficits to win their first two NCAA Tournament games.
A four-point play by Lecomte put the Bears up 69-67. Lecomte, who hadn’t scored the entire game, scored eight points in 45 seconds to put the Bears up 73-67, and Baylor led the rest of the way.
(7) Michigan 73, (2) Louisville 69: Moe Wagner scored a career-high 26 points and spurred a furious second-half rally to send Michigan past Louisville and into the Sweet 16.
The Wolverines (26-11) have won seven straight — six since a frightening plane accident before the Big Ten Tournament. They also earned a ticket to the Midwest Regional in Kansas City, Mo., their first since 2014.
Donovan Mitchell scored 19 points and Deng Adel had 16 points to lead Louisville (25-9), which had made the Sweet 16 in its last four NCAA Tournament appearances.
But Wagner bailed out the Wolverines from a poor game.
Trailing 45-36 with 16:09 to play, the German native scored on a layup to start a 17-6 run that gave Michigan its first lead since the opening minutes. And after Wagner’s 3-pointer broke a 55-55 tie with 6:39 to go, the Wolverines led the rest of the way.
(3) Oregon 75, (11) Rhode Island 72: Tyler Dorsey hit a contested go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 38.4 seconds to play, E.C. Matthews airballed a long 3 in the waning moments trying to force overtime, and Oregon rallied in the second half to beat upstart Rhode Island.
Dorsey also tied the game with a 3 with 1:45 remaining on the way to 27 points before teammate Dillon Brooks took a charge on the other end for Oregon (31-5).
With Oregon’s season on the brink of an early NCAA Tournament exit, Brooks found his shooting stroke as he typically does and scored 19 points despite a 7-for-20 shooting day. Dorsey made 9 of 10 shots with four 3-pointers.
Rhode Island nearly scrapped and hustled its way into the next round, with Stanford Robinson matching his career high of 21 points as the Rams (25-10) had their nine-game winning streak snapped to end the season.
(1) Kansas 90, (9) Michigan State 70: Josh Jackson scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half to help Kansas pull away late and reach the Sweet 16 for a second straight year.
Frank Mason III added 20 points for the top-seeded Jayhawks (30-4), who have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in nine of coach Bill Self’s 14 seasons.
Devonte’ Graham added 18 points and Landen Lucas had 10 for the Jayhawks, who shot 53.1 percent (34 of 64) in the win.
Miles Bridges scored 22 points to lead Michigan State (20-15) despite leaving briefly in the first half with an injury. Nick Ward also finished in double figures with 13 points and Joshua Langford had 10 for the Spartans.
(1) North Carolina 72, (8) Arkansas 65: Kennedy Meeks had 16 points and a huge tip-in with 44.2 seconds left to help North Carolina barely avoid a huge upset.
Justin Jackson added 15 points for the Tar Heels (29-7), including the dunk that capped a game-closing 12-0 run by North Carolina to help it survive a wild game.
North Carolina led by 17 points after a dominating start, blew that lead and trailed 65-60 with about 3½ minutes left then came up with a response befitting its veteran experience.
Isaiah Hicks came up big late too, with a dunk and four free throws in the final 2 minutes to help UNC survive.
Daryl Macon scored 19 points to lead the Razorbacks (26-10), who did everything right in the second half except close out the Tar Heels.
(2) Kentucky 65, (10) Wichita State 62: Bam Adebayo had a double-double and swatted away the final shot on Sunday as Kentucky sent Wichita State to yet another second-round heartbreak.
The youngest team in the NCAA Tournament grew up in the closing minutes. Adebayo had 13 points and 10 rebounds. De’Aaron Fox had 14 points, including a late steal and dunk. Malik Monk blocked a shot and made a pair of free throws in the final 13 seconds. Adebayo clinched it by blocking Landry Shamet’s 3-pointer shot at the buzzer.
Yes, Kentucky’s freshman trio did it all.
Wham, Bam, move on ‘Cats (31-5), right into the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in nine years.
And wipe tears away again, Shockers (31-5).
(3) UCLA 79, (6) Cincinnati 67: Lonzo Ball scored 19 points and ignited UCLA’s rally from a poor start with nine assists.
UCLA (31-4) had a hard time solving Cincinnati’s active defense in the first half, unable to get shots to drop or get out in transition. The Bruins found a new gear in the second half, breaking out for dunks and dropping in strings of 3-pointers to quickly push the lead to double digits.
Now UCLA is headed to its third Sweet 16 appearance in four seasons under coach Steve Alford, erasing — at least in part — last year’s 15-17 letdown.