Sunday night the never say die South Carolina basketball team defeated Florida to advance to its first Final Four in school history.
South Carolina basketball defeated the Florida Gators 77-70 to advance to its first Final Four in school history. The Gamecocks started off slow, trailing by 7 at the half, but every time this magical run looks like it might die, this team refuses to quit.
This never say die attitude was best exemplified with South Carolina defending, up 75-70, with 19 seconds left. In that situation most teams would just stay out of the other team’s way and not risk fouling and letting their opponent within two points.
However, this defense is not most defenses. Florida’s Chris Chiozza drove to the hole expecting a free path, but PJ Dozier stepped in front of him and stripped him of the ball. Duane Notice almost seemed to have expected this play by Dozier as he had already leaked out to half court.
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Dozier threw it up to Notice who hammered down a resounding jam that brought the Gamecock fateful at MSG to their feet. This stretched the lead to 7 and the Gamecocks made one stop then dribbled out the clock to reach their first ever Final Four.
This type of grit is the difference between the regular season Gamecocks and the magical team we’ve watched this March. In the regular season this team had a top ranked defense, but in end of game situations they struggled to piece together scores and stops to win games.
The most important thing the ‘Cocks have done is getting leads late in the game so they don’t have to play from behind. Even in close games against Duke and Florida they took the lead late and allowed their strongest asset, their defense, to win games for them. Duke and Florida were both left to pull off a miracle to win the game.
Most teams in March play not to lose when they have a late game lead. They hold the ball, play matador defense, and try not to make mistakes. However, the Gamecocks never stop playing to win.
They fight until the final whistle blows and they won’t stop fighting until somebody knocks them out. This underdog has taken down three heavyweights already and is now only one win away from a National Championship game berth.