The calendar year athletic competition between Clemson and USC ended with the Tigers 62-60 victory in men’s basketball at the Colonial Life Arena Wednesday night. And top put it mildly, man to man, the Tigers owned the Gamecocks in 2016.
The victory by the basketball team gave the Clemson men a sweep of the their USC counterparts in the three major sports…in order, baseball, football and now basketball.
Why the Tigers won
The Tigers had missed nine foul shots going into the final minute but they got the right shooters, Marcquise Reed and Avry Holmes, to the line at the end. Reed hit two foul shots to put the Tigers ahead for good 59-58 with :52 left. After the Gamecocks missed a pair of three pointers, Holmes was fouled and he hit both shots for a three point advantage with :19 left.
Dozier brought USC back to within one by hitting two at the line. When Holmes went 1-2 at the line with :08 to play, the Gamecocks had a final chance to win or tie.
The Tigers manned up on defense and instead of giving Dozier a lane to the basket for a possible layup or foul opportunity, they forced a long, contested three by Dozier that missed the mark
Why the Gamecocks lost
Dozier had a career high 26 points but missed his last eight jumpshots. And without Sindarius Thornwell, the Gamecocks had not other outside scoring threat.
The remaining Gamecock guards were a combined 3-20 from the floor. Duane Notice remained in miserable shooting slump going 1-9 from the floor. He’s now 6-31 from the floor over his last three games.
And on a night when the competition made only 3-three pointers, the Gamecocks could not take advantage as they were only 2-16 from behind the arc.
And on top of that, the Gamecocks did not protect the defensive glass when it mattered most. They allowed Clemson to grab several offensive rebounds that keyed a rally from a four point deficit.
Clemson just had more weapons on this night
Jaron Blossomgame was not great offensively for Clemson but he managed a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Reed finished with 14 points and transfer post Elijah Thomas, in just his second game, came off the bench with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Both teams are 9-2 as they hit the holiday break. Clemson has one non-league contest left, the Gamecocks two. Both coaches felt this was the kind of hard fought game that will serve them well in their respective leagues and hopefully will help them to reach the NCAA Tournament.