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21 March 2017, 10:46 | Andy Ferguson
Is This Duke's Year?
This is actually happening.
South Carolina's Chris Silva (30) goes up to dunk past Duke's Frank Jackson (15) during the second half in a second-round game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Greenville, S.C., Sunday, March 19, 2017.
Typing that sentence alone is enough to make this alum misty eyed. Walk up to any rando in the street and ask them what they know about Duke University. I didn't think we should be playing a one-seed in the second round on their home floor and I think we proved that in both our games. "To be able to play against a team like Duke and play so well".
The action at Las Vegas sports books was fast and furious Thursday through Sunday in the first four full days of the tournament.
Seventh-seeded SC knocked off Duke, one of the tournament favorites, 88-81, with a furious second half where the Gamecocks shot 71% and missed just eight shots.
Without diving deep into Duke's season too much, the Blue Devils looked like a lock for the Final Four or even a National Championship.
The Bears' competitor in the Sweet 16 will be the No. 7-seeded Gamecocks.
Four players, including Duke guards Matt Jones and Luke Kennard, fouled out of the game.
The first half was nothing new for Gamecock fans. The Sun Devils missed a shot to regain the lead but SC left the door open after missing two free throws with 29 seconds left.
After the game, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said South Carolina's physical nature wore down his team in the second half. They gave up 65 second half points to a team that scored fewer than that in ten games this season, winning five of them. And yet, the Gamecocks were still hanging tough going into the final 20 minutes.
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- Duke and SC met for only the second time in 46 seasons.
North Carolina led by 17 points after a dominating start, blew that lead and trailed 65-60 with about 3 1/2 minutes left then came up with a response befitting its veteran experience. "It was a 20-point game, but it was a hard 20-point game because they played so hard".
The Gamecocks wanted the ball in the hands of Allisha Gray, who had six consecutive points and led the team's fast-break offense.
Greensboro is appoximately 45 minutes away from Duke's campus.
The whole play is such poetry. "Their point guard stepped up and scored down the stretch and Maston had a big game".
The 40-point win was the biggest-ever for the Gamecocks in the NCAA Tournament. I'm not sure what a close second is. Wilson answered back on South Carolina's next possession, collecting her own rebound and converting a second-chance opportunity to retake the lead for the final time.
We're living in history folks.
What will linger for Duke fans are those memorable hiccups during the season, before SC out-toughed the top-ranked team in the preseason and sent the Blue Devils to their earliest NCAA exit since their first-round loss to Mercer in 2014. The only people pulling for Duke outside of Duke fans were gamblers, Clemson fans, Florida-Georgia Line, Lena Dunham and the executives at TLC. "This is one of the most proud teams for me". The Blue Devils were starting to press, to create those turnovers they had been giving USC all day, and now a freshman point guard was going to have to bring the Gamecocks home. "The level of coaching in this league, the resources in this league, the level of talent in this league, it will come to the top at the end of the year". "We were down 10 and we needed to get to work". Brunner went up for three but it wasn't to be... and the Gamecock crowd went up simultaneously as SC snagged the win.
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