The Latest: Gonzaga slows down Thornwell early

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Latest on the semifinal games in the Final Four: (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

Sindarius Thornwell has been red hot for South Carolina in the NCAA tournament. Not so much in the first half against Gonzaga.

The SEC player of the year was scoreless through the first 12 minutes of the game. And his backcourt mate Rakym Felder drew the wrath of South Carolina coach Frank Martin, who came onto the court midway through the first half to give a piece of his mind to the freshman guard.

Thornwell averaged 25.8 points through the first four games of the tournament.

3:25 p.m.

South Carolina is taking a rare approach against Gonzaga by not double teaming Przemek Karnowski.

Previous teams in the NCAA Tournament have sent double teams at the Polish big man and he picked them apart with his deft passing. The Zags made 12 of 24 from 3-point in last week’s win over Xavier, many of those coming on kick-outs by Karnowski.

South Carolina has no one who can match the size of the 7-foot-1, 300-pound center, but the Gamecocks have held their ground so far.

3:15 p.m.

The official who received death threats from Kentucky fans after the Elite Eight is the crew chief for the Final Four game between South Carolina and Gonzaga.

John Higgins worked last weekend’s game between North Carolina and Kentucky, which the Tar Heels won 75-73. Kentucky coach John Calipari began his post-game news conference talking about fouls and Kentucky fans began harassing Higgins, who runs a roofing company in Nebraska.

The Sarpy County Sheriff’s office in Nebraska said Higgins’ roofing company received about 3,000 harassing emails and an unknown number of phone calls, some including death threats. The Facebook page for Higgins’ company also was inundated with negative comments.

3:10 p.m.

It’s game time in the desert.

Gonzaga and South Carolina, both in their first Final Four, tipped off as fans poured in to cavernous University of Phoenix Stadium. Gonzaga brought an especially vocal fan contingent to cheer on the basketball-crazy school from Spokane, Washington.

The teams emerged from clouds of artificial smoke to take the court for final pre-game warmups.

The national anthem was performed by female athletes from each of the schools in the Final Four.

The game is being played in a retractable roof stadium, but the roof will be closed for the Final Four matchups.

2:45 p.m.

Rock music rang out in between commercials on the giant video screen at University of Phoenix Stadium as tens of thousands of fans, paying $40 a pop just to park, filtered in for the semifinals of the Final Four.

South Carolina and Gonzaga meet in the first game, followed by Oregon against North Carolina.

Capacity for the game was more than 70,000, some far, far from the court in the upper reaches of the building. The stadium has been the scene of two Super Bowls and multiple big college football games.

But this is its first Final Four.

1 p.m.

The NCAA Tournament is ready to carve out its finalists from among the Final Four.

South Carolina, Gonzaga, Oregon and North Carolina are the last teams standing in a March Madness field that started with 68 teams.

There are three games left to determine the 2017 champion, starting with two semifinals on Saturday night.

The first game between South Carolina and Gonzaga features a key matchup between two interior players: 7-foot-1 Przemek Karnowski of Gonzaga and South Carolina’s Maik Kotsar, who stands at 6-10.

Oregon stands in the way of North Carolina’s chance to reach the title game for a second straight year. One key for North Carolina will be the health of point guard Joel Berry II, who has been battling ankle issues but is expected to play.

The winners will play Monday night for the title.

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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