USC and Florida split their two regular season games, each winning on its home floor. Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in New York they will meet for a third time, and never have the stakes been higher for a game between the SEC rivals.
They have played for the SEC Championship in the past, but Sunday’s winner gets an all expenses paid trip to Phoenix for the Final Four. The Gamecocks are hoping to extend their already historic run thru the NCAA Tournament to one more weekend and reach the national semi-finals for the first time. The Gators? They’ve won two national championships and have made five Final Four appearances.
These are two teams that love to play defense. Both are ranked in the top 40 nationally in defending overall shots and three pointers and in forcing turnovers. In their victory in Columbia in January, the Gamecocks forced the Gators into missing all 17 of their three point attempts. Of course, the Gators bounced back when they played in Gainesville a month later and knocked down nine three pointers.
The Gamecocks will be led by SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell. He is averaging 26 points per game in the NCAA Tournament and 21.4 points per game overall. Against the Gators this season he has scored 43 points.
Guard KeVaughn Allen leads Florida in scoring at just over 14 points per game. He’s coming off a career high 35 points in the win over Wisconsin. In the loss to the Gamecocks Allen got into foul trouble and scored just one point, but he responded with a 26 point effort in the victory.
Both teams held closed practices at Madison Square Garden Saturday and also had question and answer sessions with the media.
Frank Martin on being in Elite 8
Sindarius Thornwell team performance now is the same as entire season
PJ Dozier on facing the Gators for third time
Florida presser with coach Mike White & five starters