Thornwell, Gamecocks use defense to beat No. 18 Syracuse
NEW YORK (AP) South Carolina coach Frank Martin savored his team's victory over No. 25 Michigan and then went straight to the videotape.
While his team enjoyed a flight to New York, Martin watched film of his last game at Kansas State - a loss to Syracuse in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. He discovered everything his former team did wrong against the Orange's zone defense and vowed the Gamecocks would not repeat those miscues.
They didn't and sprinkled in some dominating defense.
Sindarius Thornwell scored 16 points as South Carolina had enough offense to go along with its defense and never trailed in its 64-50 victory over No. 18 Syracuse on Saturday in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center.
''I slept on it and I said `I've got to change what I did' and you saw we ran the bigs kind of up to the elbows,'' Martin said. ''We needed to lift the big up to the zone rather than try behind it. Once we lift the zone then find the cracks behind it so we can have space to shoot.
''Credit our guys. I don't claim to be Einstein. I just try to do my job. They listened, they were in tune (and) they executed.''
South Carolina shot 45 percent and scored 30 points in the paint. The Gamecocks scored most of their points after frequently getting defensive stops via 12 steals and 17 Syracuse turnovers.
''Every game we come out and guard, that's what our coaching staff and our team prides itself on, defense,'' South Carolina guard PJ Dozier said. ''We make our offense out of our defense.''
The Gamecocks' effectiveness at getting through Syracuse's zone and forcing turnovers resulted in their second win in three seasons against a Top 25 team in Brooklyn. On Jan. 2, 2014, South Carolina had a 64-60 victory over No. 9 Iowa State.
Thornwell made 9 of 10 free throws. He also had six rebounds, five assists, three steals and was named the MVP of the Invitational.
Maik Kotsar also had 16 points for South Carolina (6-0) while Dozier added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Gamecocks, who gave up 12 of the first 18 rebounds but finished with a 37-30 margin on the glass.
Tyler Lydon led the Orange (4-1) with a season-high 18 points. Andrew White III and Frank Howard added 10 points apiece as Syracuse shot 31.8 percent.
''They were just really good defensively,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ''They pressured you, they got in the lane. They just really are a good defensive team. We knew that because we saw the Michigan game and Michigan is probably as good an offensive movement team as anybody against man-to-man in the country and they couldn't get anything.''
Lydon hit a 3-pointer with 17:05 remaining to get Syracuse within 40-32. Following a defensive stop, Lydon had another basket forcing South Carolina to call time out.
Two free throws by White cut the deficit to 47-43 with 11:39 remaining but the Orange went nearly 5 minutes without a point while Howard missed four free throws and Lydon missed an open 3-pointer.
The drought ended when White hit a 3-pointer to make it 51-46 with about 6 1/2 minutes left.
Following White's 3-pointer, the Gamecocks gradually restored the double-digit lead they held late in the first half. South Carolina took a 57-47 lead on a basket by Kotsar with about 3 minutes left and finished off the win at the free throw line.
South Carolina: South Carolina's defense continued to hold teams to low shooting percentages and it could make the Gamecocks difficult to play against for other SEC teams. The Gamecocks have held teams under 40 percent in each of their six games.
Syracuse: Lydon can take over at times and did not disappoint for at least the two NBA scouts in attendance to watch him.
How bad was Syracuse's offense? The Orange were outscored by their football counterparts who lost 76-61 to Pittsburgh on Saturday.
The Gamecocks were not one of 16 teams to receive any Top 25 votes last week. That should change after South Carolina remained unbeaten with wins over No. 25 Michigan and No. 18 Syracuse.
Syracuse will likely stay in the poll though it is unlikely the Orange will remain at No. 18. Out of the teams behind them in the poll, Baylor and Iowa State remained undefeated and likely will move ahead of the Orange in the next poll.
HONORING PEARL WASHINGTON: Before the national anthem, there was a moment of silence of former Syracuse guard Dwayne ''Pearl'' Washington, who died of brain cancer on April 20. Syracuse is the midst of a 31-day campaign to honor Washington's memory. The campaign culminates Dec. 17 when Syracuse hosts former Big East rival Georgetown. Before his three seasons at Syracuse from 1983 to 1986, Washington attended Boys and Girls High School, which is located about 2 1/2 miles east of Barclays Center.
South Carolina hosts Vermont on Dec. 1.
Syracuse is at No. 16 Wisconsin on Tuesday in ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.
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