GREENVILLE, S.C. — Sindarius Thornwell grew up a fan of North Carolina, cheering against Duke whenever the Tar Heels played in the heated rivalry. Now, the South Carolina basketball senior guard is hopeful that North Carolina fans can return the favor.
South Carolina will face Duke on Sunday night at Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena, a half hour after North Carolina concludes its game against Arkansas. And the Gamecocks are hoping to see fans decked out in Tar Heel blue sticking around to cheer for the Gamecocks and add to the home-court advantage.
“I pull for them when they play Duke, so I hope they pull for us,” Thornwell said.
The Gamecocks savored the opportunity to play in Greenville, knowing it would provide a home-court edge and they found it did Friday night in a crazy 93-73 win against Marquette.
But Duke and North Carolina travel well and had a strong presence in the arena as well, leaving the Gamecocks hoping to join a big cheering section to its own.
“I think we add a couple fans from the North Carolina end,” sophomore guard PJ Dozier said. “We are looking forward to it. We are going to feed off them and continue to play Gamecock basketball.”
Duke’s Grayson Allen noted that he got a feel for the home crowd cheering on the Gamecocks on Friday night, as Duke left the court while the Gamecocks came onto it for the final game Friday night. But he and other Blue Devils shrugged off the notion that playing what could feel like a road game could be a big impact on the game.
As for Thornwell, the senior guard said he grew up rooting for North Carolina and had friends that played for the Tar Heels in Nate Britt and Kennedy Meeks.
But of course his allegiance fully lies with the Gamecocks now, but he wouldn’t mind seeing some Tar Heels pulling for USC on Sunday.
“I hope that we can have more fans than them with us being a home state,” Thornwell said. “I hope the fans that are there support us and they are louder than Duke fans so it can feel like a home court game.”