SC will meet Florida, which beat Wisconsin 84-83 in overtime, on Sunday with that trip to the Final Four at stake. They chased after every loose ball like it was a hand grenade, threw their bodies on the floor and pounded their fists on the hardwood floor when one got away.
The SEC completed the hat trick when Florida junior guard Chris Chiozzo hit a 3-pointer for the history books to beat Wisconsin 84-83 in the first buzzer-beater and overtime of this year's NCAA Tournament.
Fans say regardless of the game's outcome, they're proud of their team. "The Bears, led by a frontline of bruising 6' 10" forward Johnathan Motley and lithe 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil, had averaged 45 points in the paint over their first two NCAA tournament wins.
Martin knew his approach as soon as USC went up 20 points Friday.
Davis also had five rebounds and three assists. Martin made an immediate decision - he'd go easy on his players, since they wouldn't have much time to recover from the Xavier game before getting back for Butler. It was far from a brilliant performance. The 22 points matched Baylor's low for a half this season.
After a pair of electric wins last week in Greenville to open the NCAA Tournament - a 93-73 win over Marquette that SC broke open in the final minutes, and an 88-81 stunner over Duke - the Gamecocks reached Madison Square Garden, where the third-seeded Baylor Bears awaited. It was a feisty performance that upset their opponents, threw them off their comfort zone. For one night, the nation watched three very different SEC programs step up when it mattered most. "If we had called a timeout, who knows what (Wisconsin coach) Greg (Gard) does and how they line up and match up and what type of defense that we see". But their defense was even better. That lead reached as many as 21 points early in the second half, and though Baylor was able to cut that down to 11, SC responded with a 9-1 run.
Following their 70-50 loss to SC in the Sweet 16, this would be the last time this group would play together. In all, the Bears shot just 30.4% from the field, a testament not only to poor shooting but also what they had to shoot against. At the half, the disparity between the two was only seven points and given Duke's lack of predictability throughout the season, it didn't seem impossible that SC could stay in the game. No. 7 SC improves to 25-10 overall and advance to play Florida in the Elite Eight at 2:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS.More news: KU routs Purdue 98-66 to reach Elite Eight
The Florida Gators are 19-13-1 ATS overall and 15-18 against the O/U.
Martin's been cooking with the right ingredients for the last couple of seasons in Columbia, but no one could've predicted the type of season that the SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell had.
The South Carolina Gamecocks won against Marquette, Duke and Baylor in the Tournament, covering all three times.
"I'm proud of what the guys have accomplished this year", Drew said, "coming from not ranked to first time ever in school's history being ranked number one, tying the best record in the regular season".
The Gamecocks believe that the schedule they faced in the SEC was hard, and prepared them for this moment. This familiarity will help the less experienced Gamecocks and save them from being eaten by the game magnitude. In the earlier win over the Gamecocks, three other Gators besides Allen finished in double digits. The books have opened with Florida being a 3 point favorite, and I'm really glad to have such a line. "It's going to be tough for us".
"More just embracing her for the last time, at least on the court", Martucci said.