USC’s defense set the pace for big second half against Duke
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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.
“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 …
And at that moment Kennard regretted not going to his dream school Kentucky. Not everyone gets a fairy tale ending… pic.twitter.com/kuv9MkXgQr
— Terry Jordon (@tnjordon) March 20, 2017
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.”
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:
South Carolina Fans…you were right. I was wrong and I couldn't be happier! Congrats and Go Cocks!!!!
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) March 20, 2017
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 …
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 20, 2017
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
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.
“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.
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 …
— Columbia Fireflies (@ColaFireflies) March 20, 2017
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
- Gamecocks will hold a Sweet 16 pep rally on Tuesday for both men’s and women’s basketball teams.
- The Crock Pot: SEC basketball fever? NCAA Tournament shows conference has something big cooking.
- Coach K tells Frank Martin he is ‘building something special at South Carolina.’
- How USC’s Sweet 16 run affects recruitment of Zion Williamson, via The Big Spur.
- SB Nation says South Carolina’s bonkers second half against Duke deserves appreciation.
- Gamecock Central reports baseball has added a game against Liberty.
Party @ T Coop
— News 19 WLTX (@WLTX) March 20, 2017
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.
President Pastides shows up to Thomas Cooper for an impromptu speech. pic.twitter.com/joOqxRqcyG
— DrinkingTicket ® (@DrinkingTicket) March 20, 2017