Clemson just finished off a 72-61 victory over the Gamecocks at Little John Coliseum. Carolina hung close with the Tigers for most of the afternoon, but Clemson pulled away at the end to a fairly convincing victory. Demontez Stitt and Tanner Smith led the Tigers with 14 apiece and Brandis Raley-Ross led the Gamecocks with 17.
Here are my thoughts on the game:
- We did some of the things I thought we would need to do to win this game. In particular, we had a +9 differential in TO margin and a +13 differential in FGA. However, Clemson's astounding superiority in FG% negated those advantages. The Tigers shot 46% and 41% from the field to our abysmal 36% and 28%. I don't care how often you force turnovers, you're not going to win many games when you shoot that ball that much worse than your opponent.
- The bad shooting on our end came from a surprising source: Devan Downey. Downey laid a big egg in this game, going 3-15, with two of the made shots coming in garbage time in the final two minutes. In other words, this was hardly a repeat of his 30+ performance last year against the Tigers. Included among the misses were numerous mid-range jumpers and layups. CU defended Downey tight all game, but even with a hand in his face, we've become accustomed to seeing Downey make at least some of these shots. I guess everyone has a bad game sometimes, though.
- On the flip side of things, Clemson was able to score lots of points inside, which I think most of us expected, considering that we're without two starting big men and CU is very effective close to the basket. I didn't, though, expect Clemson to shoot over 40% from beyond the arc. Some of CU's success just came from hot shooting, but some of it came from our failure to deny the ball and get hands in shooters' faces. This isn't the first game in which we've had trouble defending the three, and I find that unacceptable for an athletic team that considers tough perimeter defense one of its fortes. This is something we need to work on.
- Brandis Raley-Ross had another good game. He's really been a difference maker so far this year, and he'll need to continue his great play as team's continue to try to take Downey out of the game. Other solid performers included Sam Muldrow and Lakeem Jackson.
- It's not the end of the world. I would have loved to have won a game against our rival, who is, coincidentally, a ranked ACC team, which would have meant something to the NCAAs selection committee had we won. However, I'm proud that we managed to play them tough without two of our starters. If we can improve a couple of areas of our play, I see no reason why we can't, at worst, finish out the OOC slate with only one more loss. We should get Dominique Archie back at that point and then be in position to win some games in the SEC.
Well, that's a wrap on this one. Next up is a home game against Richmond. We won't be able to sleep on the Spiders, who currently have victories over Missouri and Mississippi State. Hopefully we'll be able to take care of business.