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Clemson at South Carolina Basketball Preview

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Where: Columbia, SC, Colonial Life Arena
When: Saturday, December 21st, 2pm EST

South Carolina Gamecocks (SEC)

Current Record: 4-6 (lol)
Previous Game: 69-52 loss to Virginia
Head Coach: Frank “Get off my lawn!” Martin

Projected Starting Lineup

C - #13 - Felipe Haase - So - 6’9, 253 - 6.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG

F - #30 - Chris Silva - Sr - 6’9 - 234 - 11.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.8 BPG

G - #4 - Keyshawn Bryant - Fr - 6’6, 190 - 8.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG

SG - #2 - Hassani Gravett - Sr - 6’2, 188 - 9.9 PPG, 1.8 APG

PG - #00 - AJ Lawson - Fr - 6’6, 172 - 13.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.5 SPG

Key Reserves

G - #4 - Tre Campbell - Sr - 6’0, 183 - 5 PPG, 1.1 SPG

F - #20 - Alanzo Frink - Fr - 6’6, 265 - 4.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG

G/F - #23 Evan Hinson - Jr - 6’4, 240 - 3 PPG, 3 RPG

  • Adjusted Tempo: 74.3 (24th Nationally)
  • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 102.9 (176th)
  • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.5 (70th)
  • Three-Point Percentage: 30.5 (289th)
  • Two-Point Defense Percentage: 42.4 (14th)


A Mess - 4 out 1 in (theoretically)

South Carolina’s offense has been trash this year, which isn’t unusual for a Frank Martin coached team. The main feature (or flaw) of the offense has been to push the ball up the court and try and score before the defense gets set. This results in the Gamecocks taking numerous contested layups within the first 10 - 15 seconds of the shot clock.

One thing I like about SCAR’s offense is their quick hitting sets. They look to attack quickly with minimal passing or dribbling. If you’re not paying attention early in the shot clock, they can get off some decent shots out of their quick sets.

When things slow down, it gets ugly for the Gamecocks. Chris Silva is their only interior threat with sentient bad hair cut Maik Kotsar out with a concussion he sustained in practice. They like to try and isolate Silva in the post, but entry passes are a struggle for their guards and wings.

They don’t really have any outside shooters, so they spend a good bit of time trying to drive the ball, with mixed success. They end up taking numerous contested mid-range jump shots because they run out of ideas. The contested mid-range jump shot is the worst shot in basketball unless you’re Kevin Durant.

Throw Ahead in Transition

This is South Carolina at their most efficient on offense (ignore the fact that the offensive player probably stepped out of bounds). They run the floor hard after collecting rebounds and look for the throw ahead in transition.

Clemson has to get back in transition defense and make South Carolina run half court sets.

Half Court Offense “Execution”

When you keep South Carolina from attacking in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, you’re usually in great shape. Their movement and passing is generally poor. On this play they set up a nice little two man game on the wing, but can’t execute a basic pick and roll. This is pretty common for South Carolina.

I’ll repeat once again, slow them down and make them play in the half court.

Quick Hit

This is South Carolina at their best in the half court. They like to attack early with quick hitters. The less they have to handle or pass the ball the better. This is a simple pin down on the wing that results in quick two points.

Clemson has to be ready early in the shot clock on defense.

Out of Ideas

This is South Carolina trying to execute at the end of the shot clock. The contested mid-range pull up is the best shot they could come up with in 30 seconds. Yes Virginia is a lock down defensive team, but South Carolina’s ball movement and passing is still extremely poor.

The lack shooting which allows UVA to play off the wings in the corners and pack the lane. Clemson should be able to do the same.

4 Out

I like this look from South Carolina. They run a nice set, and get Silva isolated in the post. Silva is a good player, but he’s more of an athlete than a skilled big man. On this play he hooks the defender and picks up the offensive foul.

When South Carolina runs this set, Clemson needs to play behind Silva and make him score over the defender. If Silva starts finishing around the rim, the Tigers will bring the quick double and make Silva make the correct pass.


Mixed - Aggressive Man to Man and a 1 - 2 - 1 Zone (half and full court)

South Carolina is still good on defense. Martin likes to recruit athletes who are strong on defense and then try and piece together the offense.

When South Carolina plays man they are constantly looking to jump into the passing lane. If you make lazy passes against the Gamecocks, they will steal the ball. At the same time, they open themselves up for back door passes. If South Carolina gets too aggressive in the passing lanes, look for Clemson to back cut for easy layups.

The 1-3-1 zone South Carolina plays wasn’t particularly effective against UVA. They use it as a change up in order to confuse the opposing offense. To me, it’s a classic example of why playing two defenses in college is a difficult proposition. South Carolina’s 1-3-1 suffers numerous break downs with decent ball movement because players aren’t sure who they have in the zone when the ball starts moving. UVA exploited that for several easy buckets in their game vs South Carolina.

Jumping Passing Lanes

This is a classic example of what South Carolina wants to do on defense. Instead of following behind the shooter popping out to the corner, the USCe defender cheats over top of the screen in order to jump the pass. They did this on multiple occasions against UVA, and were somewhat successful.

Clemson can’t make lazy passes against USCe because the Gamecocks will make them pay. I’ve seen Clemson make too many, “we’re running our set, I’m moving the ball on to the next guy without really looking” passes this season. The guards and wings have to be locked in mentally from the start against an aggressive Gamecock defense.

1-3-1 Zone

This was the first time USCe broke out the 1-3-1 against UVA, and they created a turnover. UVA gets in the correct position to properly attack the zone, but look confused in their ball movement. The point guard doesn’t penetrate enough to create a passing angle, and USCe comes away with an easy steal.

When USCe goes to this zone against the Tigers, Clemson is going to need to counter with quick ball reversals and wing post entries to Eli, high/low post entries from the free throw line, or wing dribble drives.

When Clemson faces a zone, too often they move the ball around the perimeter and fire up the first open 3. I expect USCe to try and bait Clemson into this sort of game. The Tigers must remain aggressive and turn down decent outside shots in order to get great shots at the rim.

Attacking the 1-3-1 Zone

SCAR likes to extend their 1-3-1 into either a full court or half court trapping defense. In this clip, they attempt to trap the ball at half court, but UVA quickly deals with the pressure with 3 crisp passes. They get the ball to the free throw line, which draws USCe’s back line defender up, allowing the dump down to the baseline cutter for the easy basket.

When facing this type of zone, ball movement is key. If you dribble, they will trap you. If you move the ball, they have to chase, and end up conceding easy baskets. When South Carolina gets aggressive with their trapping defense, Clemson has to punish them with ball movement and layups.


South Carolina is not a good basketball team this year. Their offense is abysmal, and their trademark defense is not as smothering as in years past. Clemson should win this game, even without Reed.

I will say, however, that South Carolina could pose some difficulties for Clemson. They’re good at packing the lane on defense and making you beat them from the perimeter. As we all know, that’s not exactly Clemson’s strong suit this year.

The Tigers have to remain aggressive on offense and punish South Carolina inside. Chris Silva is the key player for the Gamecocks, but he is prone to foul trouble. Clemson has to work Elijah Thomas early and often and see if he can pick up fouls on the South Carolina big man. Silva is a much better off the ball defender. He loves to block shots from the weak side. Clemson needs to make him defend Thomas.

If Clemson can neutralize Silva, I don’t see a way forward for South Carolina. Winning road games is always difficult, but Clemson desperately needs this to avoid what would be considered a “bad loss” on the resume. Plus, I really want to see Frank Martin freak all the way out at the press conference following a loss.


KenPom: Clemson 74- USCe 71 (61%)

Drew: Clemson 65 - USCe 59