What to know: (4) Florida Gators vs. (7) South Carolina Gamecocks
When: Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 2:20 p.m. (ET)
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, N.Y.
Records: Florida (27-8, 14-4 SEC); South Carolina (25-10, 12-6 SEC)
Coaches: Mike White- 48-23 (2nd season at Florida), 149-63 (6th season overall); Frank Martin- 95-73 (5th season at South Carolina), 212-127 (10th season overall)
Radio: Gator IMG Sports Network
FLORIDA POS. HT. WT. CLASS PER GAME
DEVIN ROBINSON | F 6-8 200 Junior 11.3 pts / 6.3 reb
JUSTIN LEON | F 6-8 206 Senior 7.1 pts / 4.0 reb
KEVARRIUS HAYES | C 6-9 218 Sophomore 6.1 pts / 4.3 reb
KASEY HILL | G 6-1 175 Senior 9.7 pts / 4.5 asts
KEVAUGHN ALLEN | G 6-2 183 Sophomore 14.1 pts / 2.4 reb
SOUTH CAROLINA POS. HT. WT. CLASS PER GAME
MAIK KOSTAR | F 6-10 245 Freshman 5.7 pts / 4.9 reb
CHRIS SILVA | F 6-9 223 Sophomore 10.1 pts / 5.8 reb
SINDARIUS THORNWELL | G 6-5 211 Senior 21.4 pts / 7.2 reb
DUANE NOTICE | G 6-2 225 Senior 10.3 pts / 2.5 reb
PJ DOZIER | G 6-6 205 Sophomore 13.7 pts / 4.7 reb
Much like Florida, the Gamecocks struggled at the end of the regular season, losing four of their last six regular season games. South Carolina also made an early exit from the SEC Tournament with a 64-53 loss to Alabama.
The Gamecocks are now playing their best basketball of the season to make their first Elite Eight appearance in school history. South Carolina easily got past Marquette in its first-round game before pulling off two improbable upsets over two-seed Duke and three-seed Baylor in the next two rounds.
South Carolina was down by double-digits to Duke early in the second half before storming back to handle the Blue Devils 88-81. The Gamecocks were dominant from the start against Baylor, never looking back after going up by as many as 17 in the first 20 minutes. The Bears never got close enough to threaten South Carolina’s lead as the Gamecocks took the game 70-50.
The Gators come in off their most emotional win of the season. After defeating both East Tennessee State and Virginia handily, eight-seed Wisconsin gave Florida a run for its money in the Sweet 16.
The game seemed to be in the bag as Florida held a 12-point lead late in the second half, but Wisconsin came all the way back to tie it at the end of regulation. The Gators needed a three-point basket from Chris Chiozza at the buzzer to win the game 84-83 in overtime.
After a rough start to the NCAA Tournament and to the game against Wisconsin, KeVaughn Allen went off for a career-high 35 points. It was the most points scored by a Florida player in tournament history.
SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell has been the indisputable leader for the Gamecocks all season and in the tournament. He’s led the team in scoring in every tournament game, with 29 points in the Round of 64 match up with Marquette and 24 points in both the Duke and Baylor games. He leads South Carolina at 21.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
PJ Dozier (13.7), Duane Notice (10.3) and Chris Silva (10.1) join Thornwell in double-figure scoring averages. The trio of Dozier, Notice and Silva have all scored double-figures in each of South Carolina’s three tournament games. Notice is the biggest three-point threat, with 67 made this season, while Dozier leads the team with 98 assists.
Florida and South Carolina split meetings this season, with both teams winning at home. The Gamecocks won 57-53 in a defensive battle in the first matchup. The Gators took the next meeting 81-66.
Offense came alive in the second meeting. Allen led Florida with 26 points and seven rebounds and was joined by Chiozza, Devin Robinson and Kasey Hill in double-figures. After going 0-for-17 from long-range in the first game, the Gators were 9-for-19 from three the second time around.
This will be Florida’s first ever meeting with an SEC opponent in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators will look to take down the familiar foe to make it to the Final Four in two straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Florida is 5-3 all-time in regional final games.