By Collyn Taylor
Logan Lebron was working on his Spanish homework Sunday night when the roar went up across the University of South Carolina campus - the Gamecocks, after a drought of 44 years, were headed to the Sweet 16.
Within minutes, Lebron was racing towards Thomas Cooper Library, joining hundreds of other exuberant students at the midnight to celebrate the incredible victory over Duke and look forward to more March Madness.
He lent his massive South Carolina flag to one of his friends, and it ended up in the mass of people alongside Lebron.
“This guy comes by and says, ‘Can we run down the street with that?’ And I said yeah,” Lebron said.
It was the same flag he was carrying around on a bright gold pole Monday to commemorate the Gamecocks upset victory over Duke in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The faded garnet flag stood out, bobbing and whipping in the wind while Lebron sported a mile-wide smile.
“I’ve been here three years and it was completely unique,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
The Gamecocks advanced to their first Sweet 16 since 1973 after dismantling the Blue Devils 88-81 Sunday, sending the students into a campus-wide frenzy as the clock hit zero.
“I saw Coach K’s face, and he was, like, shook,” Lyric Swinton said. “He usually looks so confident and when he lost his confidence. I knew it was over for Duke.”
Swinton said she started jumping up and down so erratically she almost fell out of her dorm room bed. A couple miles away, Wesley May sat in his apartment in a stunned silence as the Gamecocks stormed the court in Greenville.
Then, he realized students were congregating at Thomas Cooper and the USC Horseshoe to soak in the victory. Students jumped in the reflection pool. Some scaled the Maxcy monument on the Horseshoe.
Other students brought portable speakers, blasting that perennial football favorite “Sandstorm,” which could be heard from blocks away. USC President Harris Pastides made an impromptu speech outside Preston Residential College on Greene Street, telling students they “have not seen anything yet.”
“It was amazing,” May said. “We went to the fountain for a little bit then everyone ran to the Horseshoe and a couple people jumped on the monument at the Horseshoe. Eventually someone brought a speaker and we started to jump around to the music.”
The Gamecocks will travel to New York City to play No. 3-seeded Baylor on Friday. With a win, they will advance to their first-ever Elite Eight and play the winner of the Wisconsin/Florida game.
“I did not see us beating Duke,” Nicholas Bailey said. “It broke my bracket but I didn’t care.”
The Gamecocks are playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2004 and have won at least two games for just the second time in school history. Campus was still buzzing Monday morning with specks of garnet and black clothing popping up as students savored arguably the biggest win in program history.
“It’s definitely high up there,” May said. “In the couple years before we had really good sports here and we kind of slacked off and it hasn’t been as great as it was before football-wise. But this big of a basketball upset is huge.”