GAME NOTES: The upset-minded Gamecocks of South Carolina find themselves on the winner's side of the Diamond Head Classic bracket, as they meet up with the Boise State Broncos in the semifinals of the event on Monday.
South Carolina arrived in Honolulu winless away from home and losers of three straight outings, the last two coming against the likes of Manhattan and USC Upstate, so to think the team would be in this position would be a stretch to say the least. Last night, the squad came up big against undefeated Saint Mary's-CA with a 78-71 victory.
As for the Broncos, they too had landed in the South Pacific hoping to reverse their fortunes after losing back-to-back outings versus Kentucky and Saint Mary's. The squad responded with a 62-61 victory against host Hawaii, a team that used to be a familiar foe when both programs were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
The winner of this first-ever meeting will play for the title on Christmas versus the winner of the Iowa State/Akron contest.
Anthony Drmic scored a game-high 21 points as the Boise State Broncos held on to defeat the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, 62-61, in the opening round of the tournament on Sunday night. Also scoring in double figures for the Broncos, as they ended a two-game slide, was Ryan Watkins with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor. Drmic, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with just under a minute to play, combined with Jeff Elorriaga to make good on 6-of-9 beyond the arc, the team finishing at 9-of-18.
Drmic continues to lead the team in scoring after 11 games with his 18.8 ppg, adding a modest 4.4 rpg which matches Derrick Marks who is second in the scoring column with 16.8 ppg. Elorriaga (12.5 ppg) is still shooting the lights out from 3-point range, connecting on a staggering 36-of-60 (.600) in order to lift the entire team to 40.2 percent accuracy and 84.2 ppg.
Tyrone Johnson scored 16 points, leading four players in double figures, as the South Carolina Gamecocks stunned the Saint Mary's-CA Gaels on Sunday in the opening round of the event. Sindarius Thornwell accounted for 13 points for the Gamecocks, followed by Laimonas Chatkevicius and Duane Notice with 12 and 11 points, respectively. The Gamecocks finished the contest shooting an impressive 58.3 percent from the field, but a not-so-hot 18-of-29 (.621) at the free-throw line.
A starter in all eight games for the Gamecocks this season, Thornwell leads the team with 13.5 ppg, although his 39.3 percent accuracy from the field is far from perfect. Johnson (12.5 ppg) fares a little better from the floor at 42.0 percent, but really these two are coming up with a considerable number of points at the free-throw line where they've combined to make 73-of-100, accounting for more than half the team's points at the charity stripe entering play today.
South Carolina may have caught lightning in a bottle on Sunday, but if the team can disrupt the Broncos enough out on the perimeter today there's no reason to think it can't happen again.
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