South Carolina just put the finishing touches on a hard-fought, 64-60 victory over the Clemson Tigers in Colonial Life Arena. The victory snapped Clemson's six-game winning streak in the series. Bruce Ellington led Carolina with 14 points, including a key trey to put Carolina up by six in the final minute. Sam Muldrow, Brian Richardson, and Malik Cooke also scored in double figures in an evenly distributed offensive effort.
Carolina did some good and bad things in this game. First, the bad:
- When you're a team that emphasizes the press and offensive rebounding as much as us, you hate to see a -3 deficit in FGA. The culprit appears to be, like last year, poor rebounding. Clemson dominated us on the boards and had way too many put-backs. That's what kept them in a game where they otherwise looked outclassed. It goes to show you, though, how important rebounding is.
- We continue to have trouble from the line. We've had some games where we've shot FTs OK, but in most we're looking like we have the past few years, which is mediocre to bad. Some of the misses occurred late in the game, which contributed to what could have been a relatively comfortable win being a pretty close one.
Now, the good:
- This freshman class has some shooters! Ellington and Richardson both knocked down some nice shots. If Ramon Galloway could get his touch back, we could end up being one of the SEC's better three-point shooting teams.
- Other than on the boards, we're playing defense well. Muldrow continues to be a presence as a shot blocker, and we're forcing teams to take bad shots. Clemson shot less than 40%. I'll take that kind of performance from our defense any day of the week.
All in all, this was a good performance. Not great, but good and promising. I'm beginning to think that this team may be capable of putting together a halfway decent season. There's probably too much youth and too little inside presence to expect an NCAA berth, but I'm beginning to see the NIT as a possibility.
And oh yeah: Clemson, you got owned in 2010.