GREENVILLE — Duke's Grayson Allen long ago tuned out the boos, no matter how frequent they've become at all places not the Blue Devils home court.
"It's something I don't hear anymore," Allen said. "But we like playing in buildings where it's loud. When there is noise in the crowd, it gives everyone on the court energy. We use that energy and play with it."
Allen is the latest in the line of Duke players like Christian Laettner and J.J. Redick that opponents love to harass. It happened to Allen on Friday night in second-seeded Duke's 87-65 victory over 15th-seeded Troy. And it will happen once more tonight in a big way when the Blue Devils (29-7) take on seventh-seeded South Carolina (23-10) in a defacto home game for the Gamecocks, about two hours north of campus at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and whose fans will snap up any available ticket.
USC is in the second round thanks to a monster game on Friday from Sindarius Thornwell.
He had 29 points and 11 rebounds to help the Gamecocks win thier first NCAA Tournament game in 44 years, a 93-73 victory over Marquette to close first-round play in the East Region.
South Carolina last won a game in the NCAAs when it topped Southwestern Louisiana 90-85 in a regional consolation game on March 17, 1973. Exactly 44 years later, the drought — the Gamecocks were one-and-done in their next five appearances — finally came to end in front of a boisterous, South Carolina crowd who traveled the 2 hours north from Columbia to witness the end of an ugly run they couldn't have imagined would last this long.
Marquette (19-13) gave fans some serious worries in the opening half, going up by 10 points. But the Gamecocks used an 11-0 run midway through the second half to take control. When Thornwell, voted Southeastern Conference player of the year by league coaches, nailed his third 3-pointer with 6:37 to play, South Carolina was up 76-67 and pulling away.
P.J. Dozier had 21 points, 13 in the South Carolina's second-half rally.
Jujuan Johnson had 16 points to lead Marquette.