SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (23-10)
vs. DUKE BLUE DEVILS (28-8)
Second Round Ė Bon Secours Wellness Arena Ė Greenville, SC
Tip-off: Sunday, 8:40 pm ET
Line: Duke -7.0, Total: 142.0
South Carolina will be looking to pull off a major upset over Duke in the Round of 32 on Sunday.
The Gamecocks were one of the most impressive teams of the Round of 64, as they beat Marquette 93-73 in a game that favored neither team. South Carolina was red-hot from the floor in that one, shooting 52.2% from the field. The Gamecocks also forced the Golden Eagles to commit 18 turnovers in that game. Theyíll be hoping to come out with the same energy on Sunday, and itís worth noting that they should have a home court advantage in this one. Gamecock Nation was very well represented in the opening game and the team will be playing in South Carolina once again in this one. That could make things tough on Duke, who has championship aspirations this season. The Blue Devils are one of the hottest teams in the country entering this game, as they won the ACC Tournament and then won their first round matchup by 22 points against Troy. One trend that favors South Carolina in this game is the fact that the team is 26-13 ATS versus teams that score 77 or more points per game under head coach Frank Martin. Duke is, however, 6-0 ATS when playing away from home after scoring 75 points or more in four straight games this season.
The Gamecocks put on a show on Friday night and theyíll be playing in front of their fans once again on Sunday. The guy to keep an eye on in this one is G Sindarius Thornwell (21.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 2.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG). Thornwell has been one of the best players in the country all season long, and he was unstoppable against Marquette last game. Thornwell erupted for 29 points in that one, going 10-for-19 from the floor and 3-for-6 from the outside. He also added 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He will need to play another game like that one if his team is going to beat an elite Duke squad. Thornwell will also need as much help as possible from G P.J. Dozier (13.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.7 SPG). Dozier was great against Marquette as well, finishing with 21 points, four boards, four assists and two steals in 31 minutes of action. He does, however, disappear at times and that canít happen against Duke. The Gamecocks will also need to continue to play their brand of physical defense. They were third in the nation in defensive efficiency this season (86.6 points per 100 possessions) and that canít abandon them now.
Duke is coming off of a 22-point win over Troy, and G Luke Kennard (19.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG) was miserable in that one. Kennard had just eight points on 3-for-12 shooting from the floor, and that might actually be a good sign for them. Kennard is too good of a player to have two lousy games in a row, so he should be able to get back on track on Sunday. Itís also good for Duke to know that they can win games with a guy like Kennard off his game. F Jayson Tatum (16.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.2 BPG) is one guy that stepped up in that one. Playing in his first tournament game, the freshman had 18 points, 12 boards, four steals and four blocks. His combination of size and skill could be a difference in this one, as South Carolina wonít have many guys that can really match up with him physically. Duke will also need G Grayson Allen (14.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.5 APG) to come through. Allen came back to Duke for a chance at another championship, and he certainly played well in the teamís last game. Allen had 21 points in that one, shooting 6-for-10 from the floor and 5-for-9 from three. Look for him to come out and play well under the bright lights on Sunday.