No. 24 South Carolina tops No. 19 Florida behind Thornwell
No. 24 South Carolina tops No. 19 Florida behind Thornwell
- No. 24 South Carolina tops No. 19 Florida behind Thornwell
Published On: Wed, Jan 18
Mar 11, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks guard Sindarius Thornwell (0) passes the ball in front of Missouri Tigers guard Montaque Gill-Caesar (13) during the first half of the first round of the SEC Conference Tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
Frank Martin said it was a major point of emphasis not to let Florida's 3-point shooting become a factor.
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But the South Carolina coach never considered his club would snap an impressive 25-year shooting streak.
Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell scored 20 points and the No. 24 Gamecocks (15-3, 5-0) used their stellar defense to post a 57-53 victory over the No. 19 Gators in Wednesday night's SEC showdown in Columbia, S.C.
The defensive prowess included snapping Florida's 850-game streak of making at least one 3-pointer.
The Gators (14-4, 5-1) missed all 17 attempts while being held without a long-range basket for the first time since January 1992.
"They were terrific defensively and they didn't allow for any open shots and the few open shots we got, we didn't convert," Florida coach Mike White said. " ... 0-for-17 from 3 -- I'm not sure I've been a part of something like that."
Both teams shot poorly as South Carolina emerged victorious despite finished at 29.4 percent from the field and committing 15 turnovers. The Gators shot 35.2 percent from the floor and a porous 15 of 28 from the free-throw line while having a seven-game winning streak snapped.
Yet Thornwell persevered through the artillery of missed shots and accounted for one-third of his team's 15 baskets. He had a simple explanation for why South Carolina's fifth consecutive victory felt so good.
"These are the games that you live for and you play basketball for," Thornwell said.
Martin typically lives and dies with each possession and on this night he was able to find some enjoyment in the victory.
"Real good win. Real good win. They're real good," Martin said of the Gators. "I was watching them on film and I had no idea how we were going to score. None. I was hoping we would be effective with our defense and create some open-court opportunities."
Sophomore forward Chris Silva scored 11 points and freshman forward Maik Kotsar collected nine rebounds for the Gamecocks.
Senior guard Canyon Barry scored 13 points and senior point guard Kasey Hill contributed 11 points and four steals for the Gators. Yet White made it clear he wasn't dejected despite the abysmal shooting.
"To be dead honest with you, I've been more unhappy in a couple of wins this year," White said. "I thought we played really hard, and competed at a high level. This team, South Carolina, plays as hard as any team in college basketball. Hats off to them. No surprise with the intensity level they play with, I thought we played with a really high intensity level as well."
The Gators led by seven points at halftime but missed 14 of their first 15 second-half shots as the Gamecocks seized control.
Still, Florida was in position to force overtime, but junior guard Chris Chiozza committed his team's 16th turnover with 16.5 seconds left and South Carolina held on for the victory.
The Gamecocks trailed by eight early in the second half before using a 14-1 spurt to open a 35-30 advantage.
Florida didn't convert a field goal until a dunk by junior forward Devin Robinson with 11:20 remaining. A basket by Thornwell and two free throws by Silva gave South Carolina a 39-33 lead with 10:01 to play.
The Gators crept within 42-40 on two free throws by Barry before Thornwell answered with a 3-pointer with 5:51 left. Silva's three-point play with 4:33 remaining made it a six-point margin before Barry's layup and junior center John Egbunu's three-point play allowed the Gators to cut their deficit to 48-47 with 2:59 to play.
Barry twice scored baskets to get Florida back within one and Chiozza drove for a spectacular basket in the lane to get the Gators within 54-53 with 40.3 seconds left.
A layup by sophomore guard PJ Dozier gave South Carolina a three-point advantage with 22.6 seconds to play.
"He saw a crack and they were kind of sitting on the play," Martin said, "and he saw his man kind of relax and he went."
The Gators committed 10 first-half turnovers despite leading 28-21 at the break.
Neither team scored until Hill stole the ball and drove for a layup with 14:12 left in the first half. The same scene repeated itself 18 seconds later, with Hill's two baskets coming after Florida missed its first seven shots.
South Carolina missed its first eight shots and finally got on the board when freshman guard Rakym Felder buried a 3-pointer with 12:27 remaining. Felder knocked down another 3-pointer 55 seconds later to give the Gamecocks the lead.
Kotsar's basket gave South Carolina a 13-11 edge with 7:50 left before the Gators went on a 12-3 run. Senior center Schuyler Rimmer scored on a layup with 3:55 to go to cap the burst and give Florida a 23-16 lead.
Hill's basket gave the Gators an eight-point advantage with 1:02 left before Florida settled for the seven-point halftime lead.
NOTES: Florida senior PG Kasey Hill has multiple steals on 11 occasions this season. ... Gamecocks senior PG Sindarius Thornwell posted two steals to give him 25 in the last seven games. ... Gators sophomore SG KeVaughn Allen, the team's leading scorer, failed to reach double digits for the third straight game. He is averaging 5.3 points during the slump. ... South Carolina sophomore SG PJ Dozier was 2 of 9 from the floor and is 11 of 40 in the past four games. ... Florida averaged 82.1 points during its seven-game winning streak. ... Gamecocks sophomore G Hassani Gravett missed the game because of illness.
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