Marilyn Payne

Gamecocks lead Duke by 10 in closing minutes

Posted March 18
Updated March 19

3:30 2H: SCAR 70, Duke 60: The Gamecocks lead at the final media break is 10 as South Carolina is shooting a cool 72% from the floor in the second half (18-25).

7:44 2H: SCAR 60, Duke 53: Thornwell and Silva are up to 19 and 17 points, respectively, for South Carolina as the Gamecocks, hve built a seven-point lead at the under-8 timeout. SCAR is also up to 38% shooting for the game with a 70% half (14-20).

Duke, meanwhile still has more turnovers (17) than FGs (16). They are shooting just 46%.

Grayson Allen has 15 points for Duke.

15:00 2H: SCar 39, Duke 38: Fresh out of the Under-16 timeout, South Carolina got a big dunk from Chris Silva and took their first lead since the early stages of the game.

Duke's strugles continue as they now have 16 turnovers and just 12 FGs.

HALF: Duke 30, SCAR: 23: Duke committed 13 turnovers and only attempted 17 field goals in the first half, but still holds a halftime lead because South Carolina is just 7-for-35 (20%) shooting.

Carolina is 3-for-17 from 3-point range, Duke is 8-for-17 TOTAL from the floor after 20 minutes.

South Carolina's Sindarious Thornwell leads all scorers with 11 points. Grayson Allen leads Duke with 9.

7:43 1st: Duke 21, SCar 14: Duke has turned the ball over 8 times, but is shooting 55% from the floor as they lead 21-14 at the under-8 of the first half.

South Carolina has five turnovers but is shooting just 22% from the floor.

Rebounds and points in the paint are pretty even, but Duke is plus-4 from the line.

Grayson Allen leads all scorers with 7 points.

PREGAME: Duke is at an environmental disadvantage against South Carolina despite having the higher seed, better record and ACC Tournament Championship. But the No. 2 seed Blue Devils are well-prepared for the hostile Greenville, SC crowd.

"We're tested in that aspect -- we've gotten a lot of boos and (negative) cheers," Grayson Allen said. "At this point, you're going to get so much energy from the outside anyway just because of how big the games are. There's just a lot of stuff surrounding the game, we're in a good spot to handle it."

"We know it's not going to be so neutral, especially with their crowd, but it's going to be fun."

Allen, more than perhaps any player in the nation, is familiar with vocally hateful opposing crowds. For all of Mike Krzyzewski's team, there is experience in being the nemesis that makes Duke (29-7) well-equipped to handle the Gamecocks' unearned home game.

"We'd rather have an upbeat crowd," the Hall of Fame head coach said. "I don't think it will hurt us. It probably helps them because it's nice to hear people cheering for you. But it won't be intimidating to us."

Krzyzewski says "it is what it is," and after Greensboro, NC lost the right to host this event, that is the certainly the case. Regardless, the game is an opportunity for Duke to continue practicing its 'immersed in us,' mantra.

"Especially with short preparation, you have to make sure you're at your best," Allen said. "We'd love to have the perfect scout for the (opponent) but in a day or day and a half, that's not going to happen."

The star of the scouting report for South Carolina's home team is 2017 SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell. The senior out of Lancaster, SC led the league with 22.1 points per game and was also voted to the SEC All-Defensive Team by the conference's coaches.

Senior Amile Jefferson can't think of a player the 6-foot-5 guard compares to, even with five years of experience in the ACC, which is perceived by most as college basketball's toughest conference.

"Usually, there are guys who you say 'He's a really good shooter, he plays really well with his back to the basket, he's a driver,' this guy is a player," Jefferson said. "He does it from all over and he's hungry, he's a guy who changes the game."

After beating No. 15 seed Troy, Jefferson and his teammates emphasized the importance of defensive improvement. Against an unmatched talent, who leads a team that is more than just a one-man threat Krzyzewski says, it will be immeasurably critical.

"You just have to be locked in," Jefferson said. "We have to be focused on our game plan and fight for 40 minutes."


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