Put that on your resume.
Sindarius Thornwell scored 21 points and anchored a relentless defense with three blocks as South Carolina ravaged No. 25 Michigan 61-46 on Wednesday, a win that should come in handy in March. The Gamecocks (5-0), beginning a week featuring two Top 25 opponents, knew this stretch would loom large at the end of the season, win or lose.
But it’s much more impressive with a win, delivered by Thornwell, outstanding D and a brutally bad shooting night from the Wolverines.
“That’s the kind of win you tuck in your back pocket and say, ‘I hope that helps us at the end of the year,’” coach Frank Martin said.
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Michigan (4-1) was a frigid 10-of-52 from the field (19.2 percent), its normally stellar 3-point shooting locked into a 2-of-26 evening. The Wolverines scored more points (24) from the free-throw line than the field (22) and never figured out USC’s rotating defense.
It was a result of finally having all pieces of the defense Martin wants to use. His teams have always been good on the ball, but they couldn’t guard the rim. With height and bulk in the post now, games like Wednesday’s could be the norm.
Martin said his players listed the keys needed to win on the scouting report and turned all of them. “Those guys did exactly what they said they needed to do to win the game,” he said.
The Gamecocks fought through foul trouble to their starters and some stagnant stretches by doing what they’re supposed to do – when in doubt, get the ball to Thornwell. The senior led an aggressive offense early, USC driving again and again against the Wolverines’ superior height, and hit every big shot late.
He finished 8-of-12 from the field for 21 points, stroked two 3-pointers and grabbed 10 rebounds. He also had three assists, three blocks and a steal.
“It’s not my game, it’s my body,” Thornwell said, alluding to his previous two years affected by knee tendinitis. “I couldn’t really go by people, couldn’t get up under my shot with my knees. It boosts my confidence a lot knowing I’m back to my full health.”
The Gamecocks were in control throughout the second half, but with around 10 minutes to go, Michigan was lurking 10 points behind. Thornwell swished two free throws, watched Derrick Walton hit two on the other end and then took a feed from Hassani Gravett at the top of the key.
His 3-pointer nestled, Colonial Life Arena roared and the Gamecocks were on their way. It was their first win over a Top 25 team since No. 8 Texas A&M last season.
Next is No. 18 Syracuse Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y. Martin was very proud of his team but as he mentioned, the season doesn’t stop for a party after one big win.
“We got to go deal with Syracuse,” Martin said. “If for some reason, we punt one in and win by one, you think Vermont’s going to come in here and say, ‘Whew, they’re good. We’re just going to lay down?’ No. We got to play them all.”
NOTES: Freshman forward Sedee Keita (wrist) made his collegiate debut. … Guard TeMarcus Blanton (ab strain) missed his second straight game. … The return game of the home-and-home series will be played at Michigan in one of the next two years.
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Wagner 0-2 2-4 2, Wilson 1-5 0-0 2, Walton 3-14 7-8 15, Abdur-Rahkman 2-8 3-5 7, Irvin 2-13 1-2 5, Lonergan 0-0 0-0 0, Donnal 1-3 8-9 10, Teske 0-0 0-0 0, Simpson 0-1 2-2 2, Robinson 1-5 0-0 2, Watson 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 10-52 24-32 46.<
SOUTH CAROLINA (5-0)
Kotsar 4-7 2-2 10, Silva 3-5 4-5 10, Thornwell 8-12 3-5 21, Notice 5-12 2-4 13, Dozier 0-5 0-0 0, Gueye 0-2 0-0 0, Tut 0-0 0-0 0, Keita 0-0 0-0 0, Gravett 1-6 0-0 2, Felder 0-1 0-2 0, McKie 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 23-53 11-18 61.<
Halftime_South Carolina 33-27. 3-Point Goals_Michigan 2-26 (Walton 2-9, Watson 0-1, Simpson 0-1, Donnal 0-1, Wilson 0-2, Robinson 0-4, Irvin 0-4, Abdur-Rahkman 0-4), South Carolina 4-15 (Thornwell 2-4, McKie 1-2, Notice 1-5, Dozier 0-1, Gravett 0-3). Fouled Out_Irvin. Rebounds_Michigan 30 (Irvin, Wilson, Walton, Abdur-Rahkman, Donnal 4), South Carolina 36 (Thornwell 10). Assists_Michigan 2 (Irvin, Simpson 1), South Carolina 10 (Gravett 4). Total Fouls_Michigan 17, South Carolina 24. A_13,051 (18,000).