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Undefeated Clemson Basketball to Host Undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks

The Tigers and Gamecocks each appear improved from last season.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

South Carolina (7-0) at Clemson (7-0)
When: 8:00pm
TV: ACC Network

Last season, South Carolina was abysmal. They finished 11-21 and were ranked 221st by KenPom. Unfortunately, Clemson was one of those 11 wins for the Gamecocks. U of SC won just two games against top 100 opponents: Clemson and Kentucky. The loss for the Tigers was a big reason they narrowly missed the NCAA tournament.

This year’s matchup looks much different. Lamont Paris has used the transfer portal to quickly rebuild South Carolina and like Clemson, they now feature a veteran lineup. Also like Clemson, they’re a perfect 7-0.

The Gamecock’s starting five includes three transfers in their first year with the program and four transfers overall:

C BJ Mack: 6-8, 270lbs
16.7 points/gm, 4.7 rebounds/gm
Senior (5th yr, COVID waiver), New transfer from Wofford

PF Myles Stute: 6-6, 209lbs
10.3 points/gm, 4.0 rebounds/gm
Senior, New transfer from Vanderbilt

SF Ta’Lon Cooper: 6-4, 200lbs
9.7 points/gm, 5.6 assists/gm
Senior (5th yr, COVID waiver), New transfer from Minnesota

SG Meechie Johnson: 6-2, 184 lbs
17.9 points/gm, 5.0 rebounds/gm
Senior, 2nd year with team after transfer from Ohio State,

PG Jacobi Wright: 6-2 182lbs
8.3 points/gm, 2.1 rebounds/gm
Junior

With 17.9 points per game, Meechie Johnson is the leading scorer for the Gamecocks. He was second on the team last year and with the departure of GG Jackson (a second round NBA draft pick) is the leading returning scorer. Despite all the strong portal additions, he is the biggest name to know. Both Clemson and South Carolina are good 3-point shooting teams (both over 40%) and Meechie is a key part of that for the Gamecocks.

The most interesting matchup to watch may be at center with PJ Hall battling BJ Mack. Hall has two inches on Mack, but Mack has about 30 lbs on Hall. Both are versatile enough to step out and knock down 3-pointers. Hall is 14-33 (.424) from range while Mack is 14-36 (.389).

Last season, the Tigers went to Columbia and had a huge anchor put on their resume. This time, the Gamecocks come to Clemson and will grant the Tigers an opportunity for a quality win. Unlike last year, PJ Hall is healthy. That, combined with home court advantage, should swing the matchup in the Tigers favor. South Carolina’s best wins have come against Virginia Tech and Grand Canyon. While they boast the same record, Clemson holds the much stronger strength of record with wins at Alabama and at Pittsburgh. Clemson has climbed to 28th in the KenPom rankings. Only UNC, Duke, and Virginia are higher among ACC teams. It is far from a forgone conclusion, but Clemson fans should be chanting “just like football” in the closing seconds.

KenPom Prediction:

Clemson (73% chance to win): 73-66

Ryan’s Prediction:

Clemson (66% chance to win): 77-70