The Clemson Tigers dispatched the gravely wounded Gamecock basketball squad 70 - 56 on Saturday night. South Carolina came into the game missing five players due to COVID-protocol and injury, compounded by star(ish) guard Jermaine Cousinard gutting out an ankle injury. If you were unaware of this fact at the opening tip, the TV crew was kind enough to remind you during every possession.
The first half was an ugly back-and-forth affair with South Carolina fighting valiantly against Clemson (playing the part of the grim reaper). The Tigers were cold from 3 in the first half — not just cold, but frigid — with Nick Honor missing in truly horrific fashion on more than one occasion. South Carolina found ways to grind out points, and even held a lead about midway through the first half, because Clemson simply couldn’t put the ball in the basket, which unfortunately, is the agreed upon scoring system for the game.
The Gamecock’s ability to outrun the scythe began to flag in the last 3 minutes of the 1st half. Hunter Tyson took a clear charge causing the always calm and collected Frank Martin to become unglued, earning the most surprising technical in the history of college basketball. Clemson went on a run, pulling into half time with a 6 point lead.
Clemson came out of the locker room motivated, and finally overtook the wounded fowl and mercifully ended the Gamecock night with a 22-3 run to start the half, pushing the lead to 25 with 12 remaining. The UofSC flopped around for another 12 minutes, occasionally threatening to put together a run, but the P.J. Hall/Hunter Tyson inside power game was too much for them to overcome. It was encouraging to see the Tigers change up the script in this game once it was clear the 3’s weren’t falling (they finished just 5-22).
Tyson was a man on a mission tonight and attempted to put numerous Gamecock defenders on a poster, mostly off baseline drives. Tyson finished with a team-high 18 points and 13 boards for the first double/double of his career. Hall chipped in with an efficient 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Alex Hemenway continued his hot 3-point shooting with a 3-4 night. Nick Honor was ice cold all night and finished 0-7 with 2 points coming off free throws. Clemson held a double-digit lead down the stretch and the 14 point margin of victory feels kind to South Carolina. The game wasn’t that close.
The Tigers move to 8-4 on the season and start the ACC Conference slate next week, facing off against UVA on the road December 22nd. This isn’t a vintage Virginia squad but Clemson will need to bring their shooting shoes with them to pull the upset.