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South Carolina 77, Florida 70: Three points of emphasis

March 27, 2017 Columns No Comments

NEW YORK – They were picked eighth pre-season. Not in the country, but their conference. Predictions aside, South Carolina knows the number four, as going to the Final Four.

The Gamecocks defeated fellow SEC member Florida 77-70 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The championship of the New York Regional saw a contest with 10 ties and 14 lead changes.

The three points of emphasis:

  1. Turnovers. Florida did a good job caring for the ball during the season. Their 17 percent TO rate was good for fourth in the SEC. South Carolina turned them over 16 times for an excessive 23 percent TO rate. The Gamecocks also enjoyed a 20-9 lead in points off turnovers. It was too much of a disparity in a game tied with three minutes to go.
  2. Supporting cast. Sindarius Thornwell is an outstanding player. The South Carolina standout was going to get his points, and he did – a game-high 26. What the Gamecocks also received was support from P.J. Dozier (17), Chris Silva (13) and Maik Kotsar, a 5 ppg freshman, adding 12. Florida’s KeVaughn Allen scored 35 in the win over Wisconsin on Friday; on Sunday afternoon he scored 13 and was limited to 4 of 12 shooting from the floor. Justin Leon did lead the Gators with a strong team-leading 18-point performance. Mike White’s group needed a cast to consistently back up Leon’s effort. They didn’t have it.
  3. Execution. With three minutes to go the score was tied at 63. South Carolina grabbed the lead and would not relent. The execution was on both ends, offense and defense. During that time Florida rushed a few possessions that culminated in turnovers. The last three minutes were not about trick plays. Just execution. Who would make the big plays. In this case South Carolina, now headed to Phoenix on the final weekend.

Frank Martin cuts down the net after leading South Carolina into the Final Four (Ray Floriani photo)

South Carolina, headed to a first Final Four, is 26-10. Florida ends the campaign at 27-9. The numbers of note:

Possessions: South Carolina 68, Florida 70
Closer to the Gamecocks’ preferred tempo, as Florida likes to get the pace in the low to mid-seventy possession neighborhood.

Offensive efficiency: South Carolina 113, Florida 100
A strong offensive showing by the Gamecocks. Defensively, the number is probably a little higher for Martin’s preference, but definitely a better second half. Florida’s efficiency was a 114 at intermission.

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