NEW YORK (WIS) - Artists with a passion for painting are completely ecstatic when they create a masterpiece.
Granted, those works of art may not be pretty to everyone, but they are true beauties in the eye of their creator. That feeling holds true for Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin and his team's defense.
"For us, we love it," Martin said after South Carolina's 70-50 win. "This is what gives us our edge. Somewhere late November, when we played Michigan...I left that game, I said, 'This team has a chance to be the best defensive team I've coached. That was my thought process when I got home and broke that film down."
Martin may not exactly be ready to hand over that title to his roster just yet, but their defensive performances throughout the year -- especially during the NCAA Tournament -- have been nothing short of a thing of beauty for those who support the Garnet and Black and a headache for those not on the same side.
"You kind of plan for it," said Baylor forward Johnathan Motley. "You know how they are going to be, but it's kind of different when you're out there. They were playing extremely physical, so it's hard. You got the first guy being extremely physical with you and you got another guy over the top you've got to worry about. So, yeah. It was tough."
In three of their last six games, the Gamecocks have surrendered less than 60 points to their opponents. In the NCAA Tournament, South Carolina has forced an average of 17 turnovers per contest.
"We pride ourselves on our defense," Gamecocks senior guard Sindarius Thornwell said. "We know that our bread and butter and we know we have a good defense and we go out and guard. We know it's a 40-minute game and we know teams are going to make runs. We got to keep the pressure on and keep guarding."
Florida knows exactly what South Carolina brings to the table defensively. In their first meeting of the year, the Gamecocks held the Gators to 51 points and ended a streak of 850 games where Florida made a 3-point basket. With that said, Florida has a pretty good idea of what to expect on Sunday.
"A battle," said Florida guard Chris Chiozza. "We're both two tough defensive teams and we take pride in the defensive end. We know each other well. So, it's going to be a grind-it-out game, probably down to the wire like this one. And it's just going to be what team's the toughest one and who can keep their composure and be disciplined the whole 40 minutes."