OR derails Kansas, lands first Final Four trip since 1939

Posted March 28, 2017

Bluiett scored 10 points in Xavier's 83-59 Elite Eight loss to Gonzaga, all coming in the first half. The seventh-seeded Gamecocks were led by Sindarius Thornwell who poured in 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He has a series of moves that allows him to operate down low, move out defenders and get open shots at the most crucial moments. Dillon Brooks added 17 of his own points and was 7-of-18 from the field.

Duane Notice tapped into the emotion of Gamecock Nation.

Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss arrived from Washington, forward Johnathan Williams from Missouri and guard Jordan Mathews from California.

The biggest celebration for Xavier came on a shot that didn't end up counting. No. 2 Kentucky starts at 5:05 p.m.

Two weeks ago, the Gamecocks hadn't won an NCAA Tournament game since 1973 and had never advanced beyond the round of 16. This is the first time since 2011 (VCU) the Final Four features a team making its first appearance.

FAMOUS FANS: Among those in attendance at Madison Square Garden to see South Carolina's victory were Hall of Famer Rick Barry, whose son Canyon plays for Florida, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and singer-songwriter Darius Rucker. SC will face off against Gonzaga Saturday shortly after 3 p.m., with OR and North Carolina taking the court in the second game.

Kentucky led for less than 4 minutes in a game North Carolina had a big edge on the boards and inside. Also, Markkanen guarding Bernard allowed him to get off for 15 points in the second half.

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Williams had a timeout but chose to let his top-seeded Tar Heels run the ball back up-court.

OR and North Carolina will tip-off at 8:49 p.m. Old-school SC attempted just 10 threes, making two and still put up 77 points, winning the second half by 14.

In what might have been the key possession of the game, OR ran down the shot clock before Dorsey put up a 3-point attempt just before the buzzer.

On consecutive Sundays, UNC had its NCAA life flash before it, trailing Arkansas by five late before running off the game's last 12 points, trailing United Kingdom by five with five minutes left before scoring the next 12 and looking home until they weren't until they were.

Trevon Blueitt is the most important aspect of the Xavier offense, as the junior shooting guard has now dropped over 20 points in all three of X's tournament games thus far, scoring 25 points in 36 minutes of play.

But some achievements are already secure in SC men's basketball history, win or lose Saturday night. Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson can't combine for 1-of-10 shooting from three-point range again. Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are both averaging more than 12.0 points per night. This team suddenly has four of the school's eight NCAA Tournament wins and two of the other four came in third-place consolation games. However, the Ducks stood up to the Jayhawks, handled their late rally and deserved to win the game. OR coach Dana Altman previously coached at Division I Kansas State (1990-94) two hours to the west and Creighton (1994-2010) three hours to the north. Kansas is now (19-4) in games played away from Allen Fieldhouse, including (1-2) at Sprint Center.

The Path: def. Texas Southern 103-64, def. Arkansas 72-65, def. Butler 92-80, def. Kentucky 75-73.