Clemson returned home after an unsuccessful road trip to Columbia looking to get back on track. USC Upstate entered the game ranked outside KenPom’s top 300 teams and having just suffered a 46-point loss to Duke in Cameron Indoor Coliseum. It was just the type of rebound game the Tigers needed, but they got off to a sluggish offensive start. At the 13:46 mark of the first half, the Tigers were stuck in a 11 to 9 slog. Shots started falling and over the next seven minutes they went on a 15-5 run to build a 12-point lead with just under seven minutes to play in the half.
The rest of the half was back-and-forth and the Tigers went into the break up nine points, 41-32. Brevin Galloway and Chase Hunter had excellent first halves leading the team with 12 points each. Chase Hunter also had 3 assists. Alex Hemenway scored 10 first half points after scoring 10 points in the first two games. Hunter Tyson was held scoreless, but hauled in six first half rebounds while PJ Hall came off the bench and added 4 points.
USC Upstate’s star player, Jordan Gainey led all scorers at the break with 15 points going 4-8 from the field and 6-6 from the free throw line.
In the second half, Clemson slowly pulled away and eventually led by 19 points with under 10 minutes to play. Rather than breaking their spirit, USC Upstate fought back. While the game never felt like it was in jeopardy, the Tigers couldn’t quite finish them off. That forced them to keep their starters in for most of the game. In the end, the Tigers got the double-digit win they wanted by a final score of 81-70.
USC Upstate sophomore guard Jordan Gainey led all scorers with 24 points on 8-16 shooting. Chase Hunter led Clemson with 20 points. He knocked down four 3-pointers and has looked like the Tigers’ best player through three games. He is now averaging 18.7 points per game! Alex Hemenway had a big day with 18 points and also knocked down four 3-pointers. Hemenway and Chase Hunter accounted for all 8 of Clemson’s made 3-pointers.
Braden Galloway also had a strong game scoring 15 points with 7 of those coming on free throws. He has done a really nice job attacking the basket rather than settling for low-percentage shots as some had feared he would.
PJ Hall finished with 13 points. Hunter Tyson scored all 8 of his points in the second half and led the team with 12 rebounds.
Clemson’s five top players (Hall came off the bench so not their five starters) accounted for 74 of the team’s 81 points. Depth appears to be an issue early on and will likely have to develop as young players like Dillon Hunter and Josh Beadle get more experience. They’ll need to survive non-conference play while developing the depth needed to fare well in ACC play.
Up next is Bellarmine from the Atlantic Sun conference. KenPom gives Clemson a 90% win probability, but Bellarmine is dangerous — they beat Louisville. You can tune into ACCNX on Friday for that contest.