"That's what we play for", said coach Staley. "We're in it, so why not win it?"
The victory was not only the greatest in Gamecocks' history, but also one of the conference's biggest tournament upsets.
In a rematch of a memorable 2014 NCAA Tournament second-round matchup that saw No. 1 seed Wichita State's unbeaten season end at the hands Kentucky, this matchup almost lived up to the vast hype of that first game. This wound up biting them in the butt in the end, as SC dominated the entire second half. Just as they had in their first-round victory Friday over Marquette, the Gamecocks fell down by 10 points and turned everything around with a second-half blitz.
Freshman Miles Wilson scored 22 points as the Mountaineers (20-16), who edged New Orleans in a First Four matchup on Tuesday, gave the defending champions all they could handle in the first half. Duke faced SC in what was essentially a home game for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks head out to Stockton, California, to play the victor of Monday's game between No. 4 seed Miami and 12th seeded Quinnipiac in a regional semifinal Saturday. Since 2008, Duke has made it to the Sweet 16 six times (2009, '10, '11, '13, '15, '16), won two national championships (2010, '15) and lost in its first game twice (2012, '14).
SC was highly successful in their first round game against UNC Asheville, where they had to figure out a way to make it work without top WNBA prospect Alaina Coates, who remains out due to an ankle injury.
The Blue Devils made five of their eight 3-point attempts in the first half, yet only 5 of 19 after the break. He can score in bunches and rebound on both ends of the court - exemplified by his 32-point, 20-rebound performance against Texas this season.More news: March Madness: Can Michigan pull off the upset of Louisville? 3/19/17
Grayson Allen led Duke with 20 points. Both teams shot 48 percent in the opening half as 13 different players scored on both sides.
"We never had any doubt in our team", Dozier said. The Blue Devils get the tag-team treatment any time they're in the same city as North Carolina; USC Aiken assistant coach Jakob Gollon pointed out that Mercer's upset win over Duke in 2014 was celebrated by plenty of orange-clad Tar Heels in Raleigh.
"We've done it before".
"Yeah, I thought about that, that it could be the end", Jones said of the moment. SC has been a No. 1 seed four years in a row but made the Final Four just once. But good teams battle through and find ways to win games. "I really am shocked, not how Mount St. Mary's played, but that we didn't start the game with energy".
Notice has struggled with his shot at times this season, so much that Martin has fielded questions about sitting him down.
That advantage quickly dissipated, as South Carolina's Wilson converted a lay-up and the Gamecocks moved back within three thanks to Bianca Cuevas-Moore's three-pointer. I think it's starting to scratch the surface, when you talk about recruiting, the coaches that are in place. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski noted the local enthusiasm during Sunday's post-game press conference, and hopefully a combination of that spirit and the quality of play are enough to keep SC among potential future hosts.