Clemson and USC did not play men’s basketball last season because of a Covid breakout that shutdown the Gamecocks the week of the game. Saturday night at Littlejohn Coliseum, the rivalry was renewed, but with the Gamecocks at less than full strength due to another battle with Covid. The Tigers won 70-56 thanks in large part to a 31-6 run that started late in the first half and stretched eight minutes into the second.
That run turned a 21-21 tie into a 52-27 Clemson lead. The Gamecocks cut that 25-point deficit down to 12 with just under three minutes to play, but they would get no closer than that.
The Gamecocks were without five players. James Reese V, Devin Carter, Wildens Leveque and Josh Gray were sidelined due to Covid and/or Covid protocol, and AJ Wilson was out with a knee injury. Also, Jermaine Couisnard tried to play on a bad ankle but had to shut it down in the second half.
The presence of the absent Gamecocks most certainly would have made for a better game but would not have guaranteed a win over Clemson this night. The Tigers didn’t shoot the ball well either (both shot 33%), but they played with a lot of physicality and battered the Gamecocks on the boards. They outrebounded the Gamecocks 51-35 with 19 offensive rebounds, their high-water mark on the season.
Hunter Tyson led the Tigers with the first double-double of his career of 18 points and a career high 13 rebounds. PJ Hall added 16 points and 8 rebounds. Chico Carter Jr. led USC with a season high 21 points.
Clemson improves to 8-4 and will next play at Virginia December 22nd. The Gamecocks, who fall to 8-3, will host Army on the afternoon of the 22nd. With the win, Clemson trimmed the Gamecocks’ lead in the all-time series to 91-80.