Sindarius Thornwell said before Sunday’s second-round game that, even though Duke has weapons, the Blue Devils would have to stop him, too.
He stood by his words.
Seventh-seeded South Carolina shot 71.4 in the second half to upset the second-seeded Blue Devils, 88-81, at Bons Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C.
Thornwell, the SEC player of the year, carried the Gamecocks into the Sweet 16 with a game-best 24 points as South Carolina shocked Duke in the second half after shooting 20 percent in the first.
The Gamecocks shot a dazzling percentage after halftime, their busy defense spawning offense that undid the Blue Devils in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Three Duke starters faced foul trouble early and its leading scorer sat on the bench with four while South Carolina captured a 49-48 lead with 12:03 left, a lead that would end up sticking.
Kennard fouled P.J. Dozier for his fourth and put him at the line to complete the three-point play.
Duke was in control until losing a 10-point lead in three minutes to start the second half.
With 7:25 left, South Carolina had taken 20 more shots than Duke. It had only missed six shots at that point in the second half. The Gamecocks were hot from all facets, including from behind the arc. They’d made just three in the first half, with 14 misses of their 28 total misses were from deep.
Thronwell hit two big 3s in the opening minutes of the second half to drive South Carolina to an offensive frenzy.
Chris Silva was a key part of it.
He finished with 17 points after having four in the first half. of his points in the second half.
Four players, including Duke guards Matt Jones and Luke Kennard, fouled out of the game. Kennard’s fifth came at a critical time, gifting Rakym Felder a trip the line with 1:38 to go; he made one.
Junior guard Grayson Allen led Duke with 20 points, and freshman Jayson Tatum added 15 in what may be his final game in a Duke uniform.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan