March Madness: South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell has National Basketball Association scouts taking notice

We were supposed to be setting up for the defending national champion versus the name-brand team in college hoops, with streams of Philly commuter fans versus NY grads and carpetbagger fans, sharp-dressed coach versus Hall of Famer, Villanova versus Duke, epic showdown in Madison Square Garden, the toughest ticket in the NCAA tournament. The Gamecocks also won the rebounding battle handily as well. But the kind of success that eventually would lead to him to sign a six-year SC contract valued at $2 million-plus annually would take awhile. They deny. They play hard. And so when you go in as the underdog, you don't have any expectations on anything. "They did an incredible job of contesting shots".

Baylor shot 25% in the first half.

North Carolina's big first half held up as the Tar Heels drilled Butler, 92-80, in Sweet 16 action from FedEx Forum in Memphis. He's not a one-man backcourt show, but with Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter only occasionally contributing (against Villanova, Brown had his first 10-point game since February 12) Koenig has the green light to play the one-on-one and pick-and-roll game he loves.

"The fantastic number is they had 41 contested shots", Greenberg said.

"Everyone in the locker room knew Sin was capable of playing how great he's been playing", USC point guard PJ Dozier said Saturday. Baylor shot just 30.4-percent from the field and fell to 27-and-8 to end the year. The universities they once attended, like SC, became "football schools", especially with integration opening the rosters to black high school football players.

On the season, SC basketball is averaging 72.1 points, 36.3 rebounds and 12.6 assists per game.

March 18, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Lauri Markkanen (10) reacts against the Saint Mary's Gaels during the second half in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Frank Martin's team climbed into the East regional final with suffocating, physical, annoying defense, and its style was on full display throughout a win that felt easier than anyone could have predicted. "And they've become mentally tough, as mentally tough can be".

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SC joined the SEC in 1991, when the conference first expanded and began truly spreading its gridiron might.

Johnathan Motley led the Bears with 18 points, but 10 of those came late in the game with the Bears facing a 20-point deficit. You draw on that and you have to play well. Not this year. With Kentucky still alive, the SEC has three of the final eight teams and is guaranteed one berth in the Final Four. The lead restored to 17 and the crowd back into it, the Gamecocks finished the final nine minutes on a tear.

"I've known Sindarius forever", teammate Duane Notice said. But I can't force people to do what I want them to do.

Southern universities - or at least those outside the Atlantic Coast Conference and SEC powerhouse Kentucky - have always been trying to bring back to basketball the luster that has waned in the shadow of the behemoth that is college football. They're just energetic, especially at the beginning of the game. USC has refused to bow to the pressure of the moment over the past two weeks; will that change now that the Final Four is a very real possibility?

California had a longer scoring drought in the second quarter, going 6 1/2 minutes between their only field goals of the quarter while Baylor put the crowd and its coach into a frenzy.

SLUMP BUSTED: Lost in a bit in the drama of Florida's Sweet 16 victory on a 3 as time expired by Chris Chiozza was the career-game from KeVaughn Allen.

No. 4 seed Florida vs. "The way he has played in the tournament, you would never know he hasn't played in a tournament game before this year".

That is the effect that the Gamecocks' nonstop, all-up-on-you defense can have, capable of reducing any opponent into a flustered mess of missed shots and aborted drives.


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