Duke has a lot of respect for Thornwell and the Gamecocks

Duke has a lot of respect for Thornwell and the Gamecocks

There was a common word Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his players used when describing South Carolina.

Men.

The Blue Devils know they're about to head into a battle on Sunday night against the Gamecocks, who are coming off a 93-73 win over Marquette in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

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"They're obviously very, very well coached," Krzyzewski said of South Carolina. "They're men and they're coached by a man. We're going to have to be men tomorrow night in order to beat them."

The Gamecocks are top-five in the country in three-point field goal percentage defense while Duke has been very successful with the long ball this season. Something has to give in the matchup on Sunday night.

"They definitely run people off the line," Duke's Luke Kennard said. "They're men. They're strong, they're tall, and we just have to be ourselves."

Duke is coming off a 22-point win over Troy in its first round game, and has been playing extremely well of late. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 to begin the year, but struggled with consistency problems for the first half of the year. That is the case no longer.

"They're playing real good basketball," South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said. "They're healthy, they got all their parts." 

Sindarius Thornwell had a great game against the Golden Eagles as the SEC Player of the Year did a lot of everything for the Gamecocks in the big win.

"He's really good," Duke's Grayson Allen said of Thornwell. "He's an old player, very tough. He does a bunch of different things for their team. He's going to be a very tough matchup for us. I think he's really a big key for their team with how much he provides for them."

Krzyzewski had a lot of praise for the Lancaster native.

"The best, unheralded, great player in the United States in Thornwell," Krzyzewski said. 

The Gamecocks enjoyed a large homecourt advantage on Friday against Marquette, and the same will likely be the case against Duke in the second round game. The Blue Devils will undoubtedly have more fans than the Golden Eagles had, but with so many fans clad in Garnet and Black in attendance, it's something Duke certainly has to take into account.

"I did hear their crowd at the end of our game," Allen said. "When they were coming on to the court, they got a big standing ovation from their crowd. They're going to be well supported."

**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Artie Walker**