Chris Silva posted his fourth “double-double” of the season as he scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half to propel 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off participant South Carolina to an 88-81 win over second-seeded Duke Sunday in Greenville, S.C., to advance to its first “Sweet 16” in the NCAA Tournament’s expanded bracket.
The seventh-seeded Gamecocks (24-10) trailed Duke (28-9) by as much of 10 points (35-25, 18:16 remaining in the game) in the second half before Silva’s dominance underneath propelled South Carolina of the from the Southeastern Conference to their second 2017 NCAA win and first national tournament victories in 44 years.
In addition to his scoring, the 6-9 sophomore forward Silva had 10 rebounds with five caroms each on the offensive and defensive boards. The Gamecocks also got double-figure efforts from guards freshman Rakym Felder (15 points) and sophomore P. J. Dozier (11).
As a South Carolina bench player for Coach Frank Marin, Felder made nine of 10 free throws in the final six minutes of the game. Seven of the Felder’s charities were made in the final 123 seconds of the game as he also had four rebounds, three assists and one steal for the Gamecocks.
With their triumphs over Marquette Friday (93-73) Friday and Duke Sunday, South Carolina advances to the East Regional at New York’s Madison Square Garden Friday where the Gamecocks will face third-seeded Baylor (27-7). The Bears advanced to the “Sweet 16” with an 82-78 win over Southern Cal earlier Sunday. The winner of the South Carolina-Baylor game will meet either Florida (26-8) or Wisconsin (27-9) Sunday for the East’s spot in the “final four” April 1 and 3 in Glendale, Ariz.
With the South Carolina win, participants in the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off are now won six of eight post conference tournament game. Overall, the eight schools scheduled to compete in the San Juan event have compiled 168-97 (63.0 percent).
Earlier this week, Boise State (Mountain West Conference, 20-11) and Illinois State (Missouri Valley, 28-6) posted wins in the NIT before Florida State (Atlantic Coast, 26-9) and Iowa State (Big 12, 24-12) split a pair of NCAA wins.
Florida State opened NCAA West Region play by defeating Florida Gulf Coast (86-80) before losing to Xavier (91-66) in a pair of games in Orlando. Xavier captured the 2016 Tire Pros event when the event was held this past November at the HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla.
Iowa State opened Midwest Region play in Milwaukee with a victory Nevada (84-73) before being eliminated in the Wisconsin lakeside city by Purdue (80-76).
Both Boise State and Illinois State will play Monday in the “Land of Lincoln” with the Broncos playing at Illinois of the Big Ten in Champaign with the Redbirds hosting Texas Arlington of the Sun Belt Conference in Normal.
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).