GREENVILLE, S.C. (WNCN/AP) — South Carolina has earned its first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 in the current NCAA format with an 88-81 win over second seed Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday night.
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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 Sindarius Thornwell’s outside shooting and Chris 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.
South Carolina led Duke 54-51 with 10:43 left to play and built on the lead down the stretch. The Gamecocks, a No. 7 seed, were dominating the inside with sophomore Silva scoring 12 of his 16 points in the second half.
Thornwell had 24 points and Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half.
Earlier, a sloppy Duke took a 30-23 halftime lead into the locker room.
The No. 2 seed Blue Devils had averaged 11 turnovers a game this year, but committed 13 in the opening half.
That defensive effort kept the cold-shooting Gamecocks in the mix.
“It’s the toughest defense we’ve played against all year, very physical—actually the most physical game we’ve been in all season, I thought they played hard, our kids played hard too, but they were better,” said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
South Carolina shot just 20 percent in the opening period and missed 20 of its last 22 shots in the first half.
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.
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 join Louisville on Sunday as No. 2 seeds upset in the second round.
Both also came from the ACC, which started the tournament with nine teams in the field but now only has North Carolina.