Clemson junior forward KJ McDaniels recorded the first double-double of his career to power Clemson past USC 71-57 Sunday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum in front of an announced crowd of 7283. Clemson has won the last two in the series and has closed to within 88-76 in the all time record.
McDaniels was at his best when the Tigers needed him the most. The Gamecocks fought their way back into the game after trailing by nine at halftime and pulled to within a point 4o-39 with 12:51 to play. McDaniels proceeded to score 7 of Clemson’s next 10 points and that killed off the Gamecock rally. USC never got closer than 8 points the rest of the way as the lead ballooned to 18 at one point.
McDaniels finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocks. Jordan Roper came off the bench to add 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. And Rod Hall had 14 points and 4 assists.
USC was led by Mindaugas Kacinas with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tigers were uncanny from the foul line hitting 24 of 26 foul shots. Roper was 8-8, McDaniels 6-6 and Hall 8-9. That helped them offset USC’s rebounding advantage. The Gamecocks won the boards 41-33 including 21 offensive rebounds, but they only produced 15 points from their second chance opportunities.
USC took 17 more shots from the floor than Clemson but the Tigers made more free throws, 24, than the Gamecocks made baskets, 23. With the exception of Thornwell, Gamecocks were hurt by the play of their backcourt. Tyrone Johnson, Duane Notice and Brenton Williams combined to go 3 of 23 from the floor with 5 assists and 6 turnovers.
Clemson improves to 3-0 and will be in Charleston Thursday to face Temple in the first round of the Charleston Classic. Davidson and Georgia also are in the field.
The Gamecocks drop to 1-2 and will host Florida International next Sunday.