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South Carolina beats Florida, advances to Final Four

After defeating SEC rival Florida in the Elite Eight Sunday afternoon, South Carolina is advancing to the Final Four for the first time in their program’s history.

Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 26 points and their signature smother zone defense helped lift them over the Gators, winning 77-70.

The game was as close as expected until the final minute. There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties. The last lead change came on two free throws by Thornwell with 2:24 left that made it 65-63. Fourth-seeded Florida managed just three field goals over the final 3:55.

Thornwell, the regional MVP, followed the deciding free throws with a nice assist to Maik Kotsar for a 4-point lead. It seemed Thornwell, who scored eight straight points for the Gamecocks, was always where he needed to be including making a steal with 40 seconds left that turned into a 73-68 lead.

South Carolina, which forced Florida into 16 turnovers, finished 23 for 31 from the free throw line, including a 9-for-10 effort from Thornwell.

It was the third straight game the Gamecocks were trailing at the half and went on to win.

South Carolina will meet Gonzaga in the Final Four on Saturday.

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