South Carolina rallies past Florida to reach first Final Four in school history

BY Zack Pierce • March 26, 2017

South Carolina is headed to the Final Four for the first time ever.

The Gamecocks beat Florida 77-70 on Sunday in the East Regional final, rallying back from a poor first half to take control late and finish off their SEC rivals, with a little help from a non-call at a crucial moment.

The teams went toe-to-toe in the first half before Florida started to solve South Carolina's trademark swarming defense. After trailing 22-18, the Gators went on a 22-11 run to end the half and lead 40-33 at the break.

But the Gamecocks solved the defensive woes and roared back in the second half, retaking the lead 49-48 with 11:34 to go. They went back and forth for the next eight minutes before a quick 6-0 South Carolina run turned a two-point deficit into a 67-63 lead with 1:55 left.

Down 70-65 with just under a minute to play, Florida's KeVaughn Allen converted a three-point play to keep it interesting. South Carolina then went for a home run inbounds pass, which fell into Duane Notice's hands near the Florida basket. He appeared to travel as he secured the ball, but it wasn't called. Instead, Notice was fouled and made both free throws. The Gators never recovered.

Sindarius Thornwell was his usual scintillating self for the Gamecocks, scoring 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the East Regional.

It's a monumental win for head coach Frank Martin and the South Carolina program, which had never been to even the Elite Eight prior to this year and hadn't seen the Sweet 16 since 1973.

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