Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
Sophomore F Chris Silva was a force under the rim on Sunday.

USC’s defense set the pace for big second half against Duke

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

The Gamecocks’ 65-point second half against the Blue Devils has been a major talking point among the national media, but it was USC’s tenacious defense that put them in a position to outscore the East region’s No. 2 seed.

RELATED: South Carolina basketball defense proves a nightmare for Duke

“They kind of starting arguing and bickering a little bit on the court because of our defense,” senior guard Justin McKie said. “That is really when we felt like we had them and that we could take this thing home.”

The legendary Coach K called the Gamecocks “the toughest defense [Duke has] played against all year.”

Duke’s frustration was visible throughout the second half — with the exasperation bubbling over in the form of fouls and careless turnovers.

The Blue Devils’ collective annoyance with the Gamecocks’ pesky defense could best be summed up in this now-iconic Luke Kennard photo …

Eating crow for the Gamecocks

Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones caught a lot of flak from Carolina fans last week when he called the Gamecocks “the worst 7 seed in NCAA Tournament history.”

RELATED: Kentucky radio host eats his words about South Carolina basketball

Jones clearly didn’t let the Gamecocks’ vitriol get to him, sending a congratulatory tweet out to the team and its fans following USC’s upset win against Duke:

We’ll call it a happy ending as we happily high-five our SEC brethren, who (thanks to Christian Laettner) couldn’t have been happier to see the Gamecocks down the Blue Devils on Sunday night.

SportsCenter anchor likes South Carolina’s chances

ESPN’s Doug Kezirian took over the @ESPNStatsInfo handle on Monday to answer Twitter questions on the first weekend of March Madness … and in the process, gave the Gamecocks some major love.

When asked which lower-seeded team he saw making it to the Final Four …

The praise didn’t end there, Kezirian pegged the Gamecocks as the second favorite to win the East region.

Former Wisconsin RB finding place with Gamecocks

South Carolina-Caleb Kinlaw
A Goose Creek native, Caleb Kinlaw has found himself playing back in his home state.

In his second year in the program, former UNC RB Ty’Son Williams may be getting the most publicity, but the Gamecocks have another Power 5 transfer at the position … former Wisconsin back Caleb Kinlaw.

RELATED: Transfer running back Caleb Kinlaw settling in at South Carolina 

“I told him we didn’t have a scholarship and we weren’t signing a running back this year,” running backs coach Bobby Bentley said of the former 3-star recruit. “And I kept hammering it and kept recruiting him. I recruited him just like I was recruiting a scholarship player, but I didn’t have a scholarship for him. … I think he’s going to add a little something to the mix, too. He’s talented.”

The running back position has gone from one full of questions in 2016 to a strength just a year later. Kinlaw’s downhill style could add something different and exciting to the corps of talented runners.

Big weekend for South Carolina recruiting

While basketball hogged much of the headlines over the weekend, South Carolina’s football coaches were at work, hosting several 2018 recruits, including top linebackers Dax Hollifield and Rosendo Louis.

RELATED: South Carolina coaches have busy weekend hosting major recruits 

From Hale McGranahan …

Hollifield (6-1, 220) has visited South Carolina several times since he was in last summer for Muschamp Camp and received an offer. On Friday, his coach, Lance Ware, was one of the featured speakers at the Gamecocks’ coaches clinic.

Louis (6-1, 225) arrived on Friday and stuck around through Saturday to watch the scrimmage that morning.

Alabama, LSU, North Carolina, Stanford and Virginia Tech are several of the schools also receiving consideration from Hollifield. Georgia, LSU and Miami have offered Louis.

Tebow time in Cola

Tim Tebow is headed back to Columbia. And this time, he’s playing for the hometown team …

RELATED: Tim Tebow receives minor league assignment from New York Mets 

The Mets announced on Monday that their quarterback-turned-outfielder will start the season with the Class-A Columbia Fireflies.

In case you missed it

This guy literally just ate paper… ? (via @secnetwork)

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Party @ T Coop

It was a late night at Thomas Cooper Library on Sunday … and it’s not even finals week!

Everyone’s favorite multilevel, subterranean learning center was abuzz after the big win, with president Harris Pastides even making an appearance.