NEW YORK (AP) — Sindarius Thornwell scored 24 points and seventh-seeded South Carolina cruised past third-seeded Baylor 70-50 on Friday night in the East Regional semifinals, the Bears’ worst NCAA Tournament loss.
The Gamecocks (25-10) were in control from the middle of the first half on, mixing defenses and hustling all over the Madison Square Garden court to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time.
South Carolina will meet the winner of the Wisconsin-Florida game on Sunday with a trip to the Final Four at stake.
DJ Dozier and Chris Silva had 12 points each and Duane Notice added 11 for the Gamecocks.
Johnathan Motley had 18 points, 12 in the second half, for Baylor (27-8), which just couldn’t get any offense going. The Bears missed 11 of their first 13 shots from the field and it didn’t get a whole lot better the entire game. They finished 17 for 56 from the field (30.4 percent), including 3 for 13 from 3-point range.
South Carolina opened the second half on a 12-6 run to get the lead to 49-28. The largest lead was 63-41.
Baylor was able to close to 11 points but that was as tight as the game would get.
The Gamecocks went on a 16-0 run that lasted 7:44 in the first half. They turned a 15-15 tie into a 31-15 lead with 2:50 left in the first half. The Bears went 0 for 10 from the field and committed four turnovers in the run. South Carolina’s biggest lead of the half was 37-20 on a 3 by Notice with 29 seconds to play. It was 37-22 at halftime.
The Bears shot just 25 percent from the field in the first half (8 of 32) and committed seven turnovers.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks came into the NCAA Tournament having lost five of seven. … The Gamecocks’ previous largest margin of victory in the NCAA Tournament was 78-70 over Texas Tech in the first round in 1973.
Baylor: The Bears came into the NCAA Tournament having lost four of seven. … This is the Bears’ fourth straight tournament appearance. They were trying for their second Elite Eight appearance. They lost to Duke in the round of eight in 2010. … Baylor was 9-1 against the Southeastern Conference since 2012-13. … Baylor’s previous worst loss in the NCAA Tournament was 69-52 to Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 in 2014. … The 22 points matched Baylor’s low for a half this season.
South Carolina will face the Florida-Wisconsin winner in the Elite Eight on Sunday.