SOUTH CAROLINA DOWNS ARCH-RIVAL CLEMSON IN G-VEGAS …
Who was president the last time the University of South Carolina men’s basketball team got off to a 10-0 start?
If you guessed FDR, pat yourself on the back …
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in the Oval Office during the 1933-34 season, which saw the Gamecocks race out to a 17-0 start (including a win over-arch rival Clemson).
This year’s squad dispatched Clemson 65-59 on a cool night in Greenville, S.C. – the Tigers’ temporary home court while their on-campus arena, Littlejohn Coliseum, undergoes a renovation.
Riding a 24-1 first-half run, head coach Frank Martin‘s team held on down the stretch thanks to some clutch baskets from true freshman PJ Dozier, who scored in double figures for the third straight game for the resurgent Gamecocks (10-0, 0-0 SEC).
Dozier also had a key rebound late in the game and hit a pair of free throws to preserve the win – which upped South Carolina’s all-time advantage in the in-state rivalry to 90-76.
Leading by twenty points during the first half, South Carolina saw Clemson (7-4, 0-0 ACC) climb back into the contest in the second half thanks to a smothering zone defense. The Tigers cut the margin to four on several occasions – but couldn’t close the deal.
“It was a game of runs, but obviously their run of six or seven minutes in the first half when we played poorly was the difference in the game,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “Our guys fought back, we did a lot of good things in the second half that gave us a chance to win, and cut it to four with four minutes to play and had plenty of opportunities. We consistently got stops and had a chance, but nobody could make the big play at the end to win a game like this.”
Martin was disappointed his team blew the big early lead, but pleased with the late defensive stand that iced the win.
“To go on the road and play a real good basketball team that’s extremely disciplined and experienced, and to feel the lead and then see it kind of fall apart and then figure out a way to hold on for dear life and depend on our defense and some free throws, that says something,” Martin said.
Of course the fourth-year head coach said his squad had issue to correct moving forward if it wanted to keep its streak alive – and position itself for its first NCAA tournament appearance in twelve years.
“Defensive rebounding continues to be a problem for us now,” Martin said. “We’ve got to clean that up. We’ll end up getting beat because of that.”
South Carolina plays St. John’s on Tuesday in Uncasville, Connecticut at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout. Tipoff is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. EST and the game will be televised nationally on CBS. After that, the Gamecocks have a tough home tilt against Memphis on January 2 prior to opening Southeastern Conference play on January 5 on the road against Auburn.