South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from demolition of North Carolina Tar Heels

South Carolina basketball destroyed the North Carolina Tar Heels to advance to their 10th Sweet Sixteen in a row.

South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley and point guard Raven Johnson
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley and point guard Raven Johnson / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
Thumbs Up 1: Bench Bombardment

The scariest thing about the South Carolina Gamecocks is that every player in the rotation is dangerous. While USC only has 10 scholarship players, they have at least 9 that would be starters at 90% of other programs.

That depth showed off against North Carolina.

The bench for the Gamecocks outscored the entire North Carolina team 51-41 and outscored the UNC bench 51-0.

MiLaysia Fulwiley was sensational all game long, and Tessa Johnson showed a nice shooting stroke that has been present at times this season. Both Johnson and Fulwiley had been held scoreless in the previous matchup with the Tar Heels. Chloe Kitts was the third bench player with double-digit points (joining Fulwiley and Johnson), and Sania Feagin had 8 points and 6 boards as a reserve.

Playing against South Carolina when they are going well is like going against a team that has what feels like an infinite number of weapons on both offense and defense, and the Tar Heels experienced that on Sunday.

South Carolina Basketball vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
Thumbs Up 2: Defensive Domination

The Carolina defense overwhelmed UNC all game in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 32. Had the Gamecocks not surrendered a couple of virtually uncontested buckets as the clock ticked away in the 4th quarter, they would have won by over 50 points and held North Carolina to even more anemic shooting numbers than the ones they posted.

Courtney Banghart's team could do nothing against the Gamecocks as every player other than Maria Gakdeng had more shot attempts than they had points scored. Deja Kelly, Alyssa Ustby, and Lexi Donarski combined to shoot a measly 8-46 from the field and turned the ball over more times than the made shots.

The Carolina guards swallowed up Kelly, Donarski, and the other perimeter players for UNC, and the forwards thwarted everything inside other than some good makes from Gakdeng and a couple of circus shots from Ustby.

After the game, Coach Staley said it might have been the best overall half of basketball they played all year, and she seemed especially pleased with the defense.

South Carolina Basketball vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
Thumbs Up 3: Easy Win = Well-Rested

There are plenty more potential "thumbs up" from this game, but one that will have an effect moving forward was the minutes distribution on Sunday. No Gamecock played more than 26 minutes, and the 9 rotation players all saw at least 17 minutes of action.

Players should be well-rested for next week's Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, and some of the more inexperienced players (freshmen MiLaysia Fulwiley and Tessa Johnson, sophomore Chloe Kitts, and career reserve Sania Feagin) got plenty of run to help with their comfort level with tournament play.