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SPORTS LIBRARY, South Carolina, USC, basketball

The South Carolina Gamecocks (17-16 overall, 7-11 in SEC play) men's basketball team was not among the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament field announced on Sunday night, as was expected.

However, they weren't among the 32 teams announced later in the evening for the field of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).

It was a tough result for a program that played in the Final Four a season ago for the first time in program history. But after losing stars Sindarius Thornwell, P.J. Dozier, and Duane Notice (along with the suspension of Rah Felder), the Gamecocks struggled this season.

The Gamecocks finished the season with an RPI of 89 and No. 26 ranking in strength of schedule. Their profile was boosted by four “Quadrant 1” wins, including victories over NCAA tournament teams Auburn, Florida and Kentucky. But, dropping six straight games from Jan. 27-Feb. 13, the Gamecocks then went 4-3 over their last seven games.

As the NIT Selection Show was being broadcast on ESPNU on Sunday night, Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin tweeted out a response to how the season ended.

"Gamecock Nation, my guys and our staff gave it everything we had and unfortunately the Arkansas game was our last opportunity to represent that Gamecock uniform," Martin posted. "That’s 4 consecutive winning season for the first time in a long long time.

"We r still building. We will b back!"

On Thursday, following the Gamecocks’ loss to Arkansas in the second round of the SEC tournament, Martin offered his take on the NIT or the two other lower level postseason tournaments.

“If the NIT invites us, we’ve signed the paperwork, we’ll go,” Martin said. “Outside of that, we’ll stay home. We’re good.”

SEC teams Mississippi State and LSU did make the NIT field.

Some of the top teams in the NIT field include Louisville, Oregon, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Middle Tennessee and St. Mary's. But lower seeds Harvard, Wagner, S.E. Louisiana, UC Davis and Florida Gulf Coast made it in, instead of the Gamecocks.

Former Gamecocks star Mike Boynton - also later an assistant coach at Furman, Coastal Carolina, Wofford and South Carolina - did get his 19-14 Oklahoma State team into the NIT field as a No. 2 seed, in his first season as a college head coach.


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