Gamecocks use another big second half to secure fourth win of tournament

Gamecocks use another big second half to secure fourth win of tournament

In two of the three NCAA Tournament games prior to Sunday's contest with Florida, South Carolina had trailed at halftime. They went on to win every single game.

That's why when the Gamecocks trotted into the locker room trailing the Gators by seven points, there was no real feeling that the game was a lost cause.

However, there was the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the magical run was about to come to an end. After all, Florida had made 7-of-12 3-pointers in the first half and were shooting 56 percent from the field overall. Could the Gamecocks really make another comeback for the third time?

Yes. Yes they could. 

Less than four minutes into the second half, South Carolina had trimmed the deficit down to a point. After the Gators made quite a few crazy shots in the opening half, KeVaughn Allen air balled his first three-point attempt in the second half.

It was a sign of things to come for the Gators.

An offensive rebound and tip-in by Maik Kotsar gave the Gamecocks the lead again with 11:28 left in the game, and while it would be close for the remainder of the game, the momentum was once again on South Carolina's side.

"We just have been in that situation," Sindarius Thornwell said. "We played Duke, we were down. We played Marquette, we were down. We felt like we were doing the right things. We felt like everything was going good for us, it was just the ball wasn't falling in. Going into halftime we just buckled in and locked in on what we needed to do to win." 

The Gators missed all 14 three-point attempts in the second half while South Carolina put up 44 points and defeated Florida, 77-70, to punch its ticket to the Final Four in Phoenix.

The dream continues: Gamecocks punch ticket to Final Four

Sunday's game continued a trend of second half surges for the Gamecocks. In four NCAA Tournament games, the Gamecocks have scored a combined 196 points in the second half. That's an average of 49 second-half points per game.

It's no wonder then that the Gamecocks have won all four games so far despite trailing at the half in three of them.

Emotional Darius Rucker excited after huge South Carolina win

With the Final Four game against Gonzaga looming, South Carolina is not content with what its done so far. While the Gamecocks have made it farther than almost anyone thought they would, they're too close now not to think about the big prize – the National Championship.

"We're not going to settle for this," Thornwell said. "We're still going into that game thinking we can win. Why not? Why not us, why not go win it all? That's our mindset. We feel like we can compete with anybody in the country."

**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**