Clemson, SC – Clemson (10-1) defeated in-state rival South Carolina (8-3) 64-48. Clemson was coming off an impressive win on a neutral court against No. 23 Florida and their winning ways continued. The Tigers are looking more and more like an NCAA tournament team this year, building a solid non-conference resume with wins over Ohio State on the road, Florida and South Carolina. If they can keep up this momentum into ACC play, they will have a good shot of going to the big dance.
Both of these teams take pride in their defense and forcing teams to make tough shots, however the Tigers proved to be the more complete team. The Gamecocks came into the game shooting 44.5 percent from the field, but were held to 35.2 percent shooting and 2-of-16 from three. They were also held to a season low 48 points. Scoring was at a premium tonight and while South Carolina was able to keep the game close in the first half, Clemson was able to pull away over the course of the second half. South Carolina extended their man-to-man pressure and when Clemson was able to break down one-on-one matchups they caused the help-side to over-rotate, which in turn led to open looks inside and from the 3-point line. South Carolina is a very physical and good rebounding team, but the Tigers did a great job of team rebounding and limiting South Carolina on second chance opportunities.
Clemson dealt with early foul trouble on their leading scorer, Donte Grantham, who only played 20 minutes and was held to five points. However, junior guard Marcquise Reed stepped up and dominated the game scoring a career-high 25 points. He was 6-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-9 from three; he also added six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Reed is an intriguing pro prospect; he is proving to score consistently at all three levels so far this season. He also has shown that he can take care of the responsibilities as the primary ball handler. If he doesn’t catch the eye of NBA scouts, he will certainly play professionally overseas. Gabe DeVoe and Shelton Mitchell added in 12 and 10 points respectively and the big man for the Tigers, 6-9 Elijah Thomas was a force inside. Even though he only had eight points, he was able to effect the game tremendously on the defensive end with five blocked shots, three steals and six rebounds.
South Carolina is led by 6-9 Chris Silva, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. He is athletic and he is a lob threat on every pick and roll. He is a very good shot blocker and post defender. He is so long and quick for his size that he can hold his own against smaller players as well. He only had one block tonight but altered many other shot attempts with his length. Maik Kotsar is the starting power forward for the Gamecocks but had a quiet six points and six rebounds. He had a tough matchup tonight with the quicker and more athletic forwards of Clemson but he is a solid role player. The other three starters for South Carolina, Justin Minaya, Frank Booker and Hassani Gravett, combined to shoot 1-of-17 from the field which proved to be the difference in the game. However there was relief for the starting guards thanks to Wesley Myers and Kory Holden. They combined to shoot 8-of-12 for 18 points and help the Gamecocks keep the game close in the first half. Those two will look to earn more playing time in the near future if they continue their efficient scoring.
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