When you've lost 2 straight in the rivalry and you're playing without one of your top players, you take a win however you can get it. Clemson (5-2) didn't always look like a well-oiled machine, but they played well enough to earn a much deserved W. And after being the superior team the last 2 seasons and suffering embarrassing defeats at the hands of the Gamecocks, it feels really good to go into their place and put an end to that streak.
Devin Booker and K.J. McDaniels led the way for the Tigers. Booker was very effective at putting pressure on the Gamecocks D because they didn't have a big man that could guard him. He was an efficient 5-8 from the field for 13 points. However, I hope we never see him pull the trigger from 3 again this season. Get your butt under the basket and know your role.
McDaniels again stuffed the stat sheet. He didn't shoot the ball all that well, but finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 blocks. He also received a lot of praise from commentator Dino Guadio throughout the broadcast. Gaudio kept raving about McDaniels being a human highlight reel and called him one of the better sophomores he's seen this year.
T.J. Sapp took an ill-advised 3 early in the game and saw extremely limited action. Brownell decided to go with Hall and Filer together in the backcourt for much of the game, and it proved to be a good move. Those guys play really well together and did a good job of calming the Tigers after South Carolina made a big run to take the lead in the 2nd half. Going forward I'd expect to see Filer starting with Hall in the backcourt. His ability to attack the basket is something this offense desperately needs. Even when he doesn't finish, he draws defenders and gives guys like Booker and McDaniels opportunities for 2nd chance points. For an offense that often times becomes to stagnant and content with hoisting up 3's, it's a revelation to have a aggressive player like Filer who also makes pretty good decisions for a freshman.
Jordan Roper and Damarcus Harrison are proving to be instant offense off the bench. Roper had a big steal and a dunk during a 2nd half run in which Clemson recaptured the lead. Later, when South Carolina had trimmed the lead to 3, Harrison drilled a big 3 with under 4 minutes to go to give Clemson a 7 point cushion. The Tigers did a very good job of hitting their free throws down the stretch, going 21-26 in the second half.
Clemson plays Arizona next Saturday at 8PM. Arizona is a top 10 team loaded with talent, and it'd be really nice if we could pack LJC and get a signature win.
One last thing, I wouldn't be opposed to someone catching Michael Carrera with an elbow at some point this season. That guy is a no-talent instigator that needs to put in his place.