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The University of South Carolina men’s basketball team has reached the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament on the strength of a surprising 71-69 upset of fifth-seeded Arkansas – likely costing the Razorbacks (21-11, 10-8 SEC) their shot at an NCAA tournament bid.

The Gamecocks (14-19, 5-13 SEC) will now do battle against Tennessee – another team on the cusp of making the “Big Dance.”

Can South Carolina play the role of spoiler one more time?

After going five years without winning an SEC tournament game, the Gamecocks have now won two in a row. They’ve also won three straight conference games for the first time under head coach Frank Martin – although Martin was suspended for the team’s regular season finale against Mississippi State for cursing at a player.

South Carolina superfrosh Sindarius Thornwell – who was recently named to the conference’s All-Freshman team – led the way for the Gamecocks with 17 points. Forward Laimonas Chatkevicius came off the bench to add 16 points.

Taming fourth-seeded Tennessee won’t be easy. The Volunteers (20-11, 11-7 SEC) pummeled the Gamecocks 72-53 in Knoxville two months ago during their only meeting of the regular season.

Assuming South Carolina can get by the Volunteers, they would likely face No. 1 Florida in the semifinal round.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography