Although Gonzaga ended South Carolina’s run in the NCAA Championships Saturday with a 77-73 win in the national semi-finals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the Gamecocks’ 2016-2017 campaign will mark the most successful season in the school’s men’s basketball history.
Not since 1973 had South Carolina (Southeastern Conference, 26-11) won a game in the men’s national tournament and the 26 wins represent the most victories in a season for the Gamecocks, who will be one of eight schools competing in the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
With its first “final four” appearance in the men’s NCAA Tournament, South Carolina became the seventh school with ties to the Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off to advance to a national “final four”. To advance to Arizona semi-final game, seventh-seeded Gamecocks defeated the second- (Duke 88-81), third- (Baylor 70-50) and fourth-seeded (Florida 77-70) schools in the East Region along with 10th-seeded Marquette (93-73).
The Gamecocks join Memphis (2008), Villanova (2009), West Virginia (2010), Michigan (2013), Connecticut (2014) and Oklahoma (2016) as Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off schools that played in the NCAA “final four” in the spring before visiting San Juan in the fall for the in-season tournament. Connecticut captured the 2014 national title while Memphis and Michigan where defeated in the championship game by Kansas and Louisville, respectively.
PJ Dozier, a 6-6 sophomore guard from Columbia, S., C., led South Carolina in scoring with 17 points while grabbing nine rebounds. For the five NCAA games, Dozier scored 78 point, collected 24 rebounds and handed out 12 assists while shooting 33 of 65 from the field.
Chris Silva, a 6-9 sophomore forward from Libreville, Gabon, led the Gamecocks in rebounding with 13 caroms against the Bulldogs while scoring 13 points. Silva scored 65 points, grabbed 44 rebounds and blocked eight shots in the NCAA tournament with 31 markers coming via the free throw line (38 attempts).
South Carolina was the last of three schools scheduled to compete in the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off still participating in the 2017 NCAA tournament. The other two NCAA teams – Florida State (Atlantic Coast, 26-9) and Iowa State (Big 12, 24-11) – were eliminated.
Boise State (Mountain West Conference, 20-12) and Illinois State (Missouri Valley, 28-7), two other 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off participants, played in the 2017 NIT and each split a pair of games. With five schools posting 20 or more wins this season, the combined record for the eight teams scheduled for the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off is 170-100 (63.0 percent).
The 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off is scheduled for November 16, 17 and 19 in San Juan. Other schools competing in the three-day, 12-game bracketed in-season tournament will be Tulsa (American Athletic, 15-17), UTEP (Conference USA, 15-17) and Western Michigan (Mid-American, 16-16).