Gamecocks still dancing, beat Baylor for first Elite 8 appearance

For the first time in program history, the Gamecocks are officially Elite.

Seven-seed USC stormed past three-seed Baylor at Madison Square Garden Friday night 70-50, upsetting a second-straight higher seeded opponent in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the Elite 8 for the first time in program history.

Powered by an 18-0 run over 7:43 of game time in the first half, Carolina’s defense and aggressiveness set them apart from BU in the garnet and black’s first Sweet 16 game since the field expanded past 32 teams. The Gamecocks held their opponent, who at one point this season was ranked first in the AP poll, to just 25 percent (8-32) shooting in the first half.

Sindarius Thornwell led all Gamecocks with 24 points, while Chris Silva and PJ Dozier scored 12.

Frank Martin is now 3-0 in his first March Madness appearance with Carolina, 9-4 overall in his coaching career. Before this run, Carolina hadn’t won a game in the NCAA Tournament since 1973, let alone made the field since 2004.

The Gamecocks will face a familiar foe in the Regional Final on Sunday. Four-seed Florida beat eight-seed Wisconsin 84-83 in overtime of the late game at MSG. Playing into the early hours of Saturday morning, Chris Chiozza hit a game-winning three-pointer that beat the buzzer and the Badgers to set up a third game between USC and UF this campaign.

The garnet and black won the first matchup at Colonial Life Arena in January 57-53, while the blue and orange took their home game in Gainesville 81-66 in February.

Tip for their Elite 8 showdown is set for 2:20 p.m. Sunday in New York City.

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