South Carolina defense, physicality was nightmare for Duke

South Carolina defense, physicality was nightmare for Duke

Duke came into its game against South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament one of the better offensive teams in the country. The Blue Devils were averaging more than 80 points per game and had five players that average in double figures.

Just glancing at the numbers, it appeared the Gamecocks didn't do anything special on defense in their upset victory over Duke. The Blue Devils scored 81 points and had five players score at least 11 points. 

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However, some of the other numbers show just how good South Carolina was on the defensive end. Duke was forced into 18 turnovers that resulted in 10 points for the Gamecocks. South Carolina also had 12 first half offensive rebounds and never let the Blue Devils get an easy pass. 

After making five of its first six three-point attempts, Duke missed 16 of its final 21 attempts from behind the arc and shot just 38.9 percent from the field in the second half. 

"We were just following the game plan and playing South Carolina defense," sophomore Chris Silva said. "That's it, and everything followed."

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Silva had a couple of fantastic blocks on Duke dunk attempts, and the defense was certainly key in the Gamecocks' monumental win that sent them to the Sweet Sixteen. 

The frustration was easy to see on the Duke faces, and South Carolina fed off of that. 

"It was a little weird because you watch Duke on TV and they're so composed," senior Justin McKie said. "We've been doing that all year. When our defense is really good, teams start to fold a little bit, and that's what we thrive on, playing defense." 

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Duane Notice's defense was once again superb, and it helped force Duke point guard Frank Jackson into five turnovers. The Blue Devils were never able to get into an offensive rhythm. 

"It was amazing," Notice said. "It's an amazing feeling when stuff that we practice translates to the game. Like we've been saying all year, our defense is our focal point so for us to keep that foot on the gas and transfer it into offense was a big thing for us."

All of that contributed to a miserable night for Duke that saw its season end. The Gamecocks scored a whopping 65 points in the second half, and it happened because of what South Carolina did on the defensive side of the ball.

The Blue Devils could not keep up. 

"It's the toughest defense we've played against all year," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Very physical. Actually, the most physical game we've been in all year.

"We got worn down."

**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Artie Walker**