South Carolina (9-0) at Clemson (7-3)
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Immediately after making history, this year's South Carolina team will face its first true test of the season.
On Tuesday night, these Gamecocks defeated Drexel, 79-54, at Colonial Life Arena, improving their record to 9-0, marking the program's best start since 1970. They'll have an opportunity on Friday night to reach 10-0 - the best start for a South Carolina men's basketball team since 1933.
To do so, they'll have to defeat instate rival Clemson. The Tigers represent the strongest opponent USC will have faced so far this season. The trip to Greenville's Bon Secours Arena also represents the Gamecocks' first true road test of the year.
Brad Brownell's bunch aren't world-beaters, but they are South Carolina's toughest opponent thus far - that's more to do with USC's schedule than Clemson's talent. They've played their way to a 7-3 start with their latest outing ending in a 69-41 win over Presbyterian. Last Sunday, the Tigers suffered a crushing loss to Alabama at home on a last second shot.
Clemson's loss to the Tide marks their lone loss at home so far this season. They generally own South Carolina when playing on their home floor and they've held a firm grip on the series most recently as well, winning seven of the last 10 contests.
South Carolina prevailed last season, and hold a 89-76 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1913. The Gamecocks biggest strength and the Tigers greatest weakness connect - rebounding. USC has outrebounded their opponent in eight of nine games and hold a +10.2 rebound margin this season, good for 17th in the nation and best in the SEC.
Clemson's strengths come from guarding the rim and overall defense. The Tigers are among the country's leaders in blocks per game, ranking 17th overall. Landry Nnoko's 2.4 swats per game rank 26th nationally. Brownwell's defense ranks fifth in the nation in opponent scoring average (56.9 PPG).
Jaron Blossomgame leads the Tigers in scoring with 16.3 points per game. He tallied 14 points in last season's loss to South Carolina.
The Gamecocks remain the only undefeated team in the SEC and represent only a handful of unbeaten teams throughout the country. Clemson represents the team's toughest trial to date, but it's a test Frank Martin's team should pass.