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Oh, so sweet! Gamecock men and women punch tickets to Sweet 16

Oh, so sweet! Gamecock men and women punch tickets to Sweet 16

Duke, who just won the ACC Tournament and was considered a favorite to win March Madness, got smacked around by a No. 7 seeded team.

The South Carolina Gamecocks and Baylor Bears face off in the Sweet 16 this Friday night at Madison Square Garden in College Basketball action. The Pac-12's run is the most impressive considering it had four teams in the field of 68.

SC showed a full array of toughness at an ideal time.

That means you've watched plenty of NCAA Tournament action. SC went into halftime down by a 31-24 margin at halftime but scored 65 points in the 2nd half and pulled away after taking a 68-58 lead with 5:23 left in regulation.

"We wrote as much in the first two days as we did on the Super Bowl, which is incredible", veteran South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said.

On the other side, SC looked very impressive in its opening-round win over Marquette.

It wasn't just losing.

Xavier's Quentin Goodin (Taylor County) was pressed into full-time point guard duty after Musketeers starter Edmond Sumner was lost to a torn ACL in late January. The Seminoles were seen as a Final Four sleeper pick due to their size and athleticism. Just as they had in their first-round victory Friday over Marquette, the Gamecocks fell down by 10 points and turned everything around with a second-half blitz. The selection committee placed Duke, Winthrop and Charlotte all in the same pod, along with a program with a huge national following in Notre Dame. A short time later, Frank Jackson, Luke Kennard and Matt Jones had long-range baskets on consecutive possessions as the Blue Devils jumped to a 16-4 lead less than 5 minutes in. He led Kansas State to an Elite Eight appearance in 2010 - two years before former SC athletics director Eric Hyman hired him to take over a SC program in shambles.

If anything the first weekend was marked by some apparent misses in seeding.

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But the Big East champions, who entered this tourney with more wins than any past champion, regrouped at halftime and reserved a date with either Wisconsin or Virginia Tech on Saturday. Against a marquee opponent, and one hated by a good portion of the country, a team not named Kentucky or Florida earned a statement win.

"I don't know if I thrive on it", Allen said afterward when asked if the booing inspires him. "We're in it, so why not win it?"

Rakym Felder of the South Carolina Gamecocks played high school ball at Lincoln in Coney Island.

Duke (28-9) was attempting to reach the round of 16 for the sixth time in eight seasons.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats trailed 50-31 early in third but closed to 65-64 with 6:04 remaining. Kansas has the sixth-highest winning percentage (.697) with a record of 101-44 in tournament history, while the Spartans are seventh with a record of 64-29 (.688).

But the Badgers' Nigel Hayes put it well on Saturday after the victory. "This team was a unsafe team because they got healthy, that's No. 1". "And they kept telling me, 'We got you, we got it, we're going to finish this game, ' and they did".

The 2016-17 regular season was filled with respected media minds calling this year's version of the ACC things like "the best conference of all time".

Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski left the team for a month to have back surgery, handing the team over to assistant Jeff Capel, and near the end of his sabbatical deployed one of his oldest motivational tactics by briefly prohibiting his players from wearing Duke gear.

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