March Madness: South Carolina overcomes sluggish start to sweep South Florida in Sweet 16

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March 19, 2023; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks guard Gia Cook (1) beat South Florida Bulls guard Ariel Wilson (22) in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina hasn’t been at its best on offense in the NCAA tournament. But has been good enough to advance to the Sweet 16.

The top-seeded Gamecocks overcame a sluggish start on Sunday with a 76-45 win over No. 8 South Florida to secure their spot in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

South Florida put South Carolina to an early test, holding the Gamecocks to 35.7% shooting from the field while building a 16–12 lead. But the Gamecocks rallied to a 33–29 halftime lead with a 21-point lead in the second quarter. Then he took charge.

A team that has made a season of dominating second halves pressured the Bulls after halftime and leaned on their depth on offense to run away with the game. With 2:10 left in the fourth quarter and South Carolina leading 69–40, head coach Don Staley emptied the bench so that South Carolina’s home crowd could give a standing ovation to their outgoing seniors in their final home game.

Aliyah Boston controlled the post, tallying 11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal. Fellow senior Gia Cook paced the offense with 21 points while shooting 8 of 19 from the field. The Gamecocks improve to 34–0 as they look to secure a second straight national championship.