College Basketball

NCAA TOURNAMENT: South Carolina beats Florida, heads to Final Four


NCAA TOURNAMENT: South Carolina beats Florida, heads to Final Four

NEW YORK - It's only right that South Carolina's first trip to Final Four was earned through its defense.

A team known for a swarming zone used it effectively down the stretch to beat Florida 77-70 on Sunday and win the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.

Sindarius Thornwell scored 26 points for the seventh-seeded Gamecocks (26-10) against the fourth-seeded Gators (27-9) in the all-Southeastern Conference matchup.

South Carolina will face Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed from the West Regional, in the Final Four on Saturday at Glendale, Arizona.

"Gamecock Nation, we heard you loud and clear," coach Frank Martin roared as the team prepared to cut down the nets. "We'll see you in Phoenix."

The game was as close as expected until the final minute. There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties. The last lead change came on two free throws by Thornwell with 2:24 left that made it 65-63. Florida managed just three field goals over the final 3:55.

Thornwell, the regional MVP, followed the deciding free throws with a nice assist to Maik Kotsar for a 4-point lead. It seemed Thornwell, who scored eight straight points for the Gamecocks, was always where he needed to be including making a steal with 40 seconds left that turned into a 73-68 lead.

"I just made plays," Thornwell said. "Plays needed to be made down the stretch and I stepped up and made plays."

"Thornwell was just being Thornwell," Florida coach Mike White said of the SEC player of the year. "He's one of the best players in the country."

PJ Dozier added 17 points for the Gamecocks, Chris Silva had 13 and Kotsar 12.

It all totaled to a Final Four trip for Martin, he of the booming voice and terrifying faces.

Justin Leon had 18 points for the Gators who managed a 40-33 halftime lead on 7-for-12 shooting from 3-point range. But that was it. Florida was 0 for 14 from beyond the arc in the second half, a lot like the 0-for-17 effort the Gators had in their first meeting with South Carolina this season.

South Carolina, which forced Florida into 16 turnovers, finished 23 for 31 from the free throw line, including a 9-for-10 effort from Thornwell.

UMBC stuns Virginia, becomes first No. 16 seed ever to beat No. 1 in NCAA tournament

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UMBC stuns Virginia, becomes first No. 16 seed ever to beat No. 1 in NCAA tournament

For the first time in NCAA tournament history, a No. 16 seed has beaten a No. 1.

UMBC (University of Maryland-Baltimore County) pulled off the impossible Friday night, beating No. 1 seed and tournament favorite Virginia, 74-54.

The Retrievers ended the seemingly never-ending streak of 135 matchups in which the No. 16 seed fell in the first round. They'll move on to the Round of 32 to take on No. 9 Kansas State.


NCAA: Providence College's season ends in 73-69 loss to Texas A&M

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NCAA: Providence College's season ends in 73-69 loss to Texas A&M

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Admon Gilder scored 18 points to help Texas A&M hold off Providence 73-69 in Friday's first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Robert Williams and Tyler Davis both had double-doubles for the Aggies (21-12), the No. 7 seed in the West Region. The teams were tied at 50-50 with about 9 minutes left but Texas A&M responded with a 12-2 run to finally wrestle control away from the Friars.

Gilder hit a straightaway 3 with 2:49 left to cap that flurry for a 62-52 lead.

Davis had 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Williams added 13 points and 14 boards -- including a highlight-reel windmill dunk with 39.2 seconds left as the Aggies did just enough to put it away.

Rodney Bullock scored 22 points with three 3-pointers for 10th-seeded Providence (21-14), which shot 44 percent but never recovered from A&M's critical-moment burst.


Providence: The Friars were making their fifth straight tournament trip and had earned wins against 1-seeds Xavier (twice) and Villanova this season. But they couldn't speed the Aggies up nor keep them off the boards to take advantage of their guard play and advance.

Texas A&M: The Aggies were up and down all year, from hitting No. 5 in the AP Top 25 in December to starting 0-5 in the Southeastern Conference. But they came up with key baskets when they had to have them, and their game-long work on the boards - up 44-26 by the finish - was a heck of an advantage.


Texas A&M: The Aggies advanced to play the Lipscomb-North Carolina winner in Sunday's second round.