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Game preview: South Carolina men take on rival Clemson

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Let’s get this Christmas weekend started the right way, shall we?

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina (4-6) vs. Clemson (8-3)

Start time: 2 p.m.

TV: ESPN2

Live stream: watchespn.com

Last game

After an extended break for exams, the Gamecocks got back on their home court with another tough test in the fifth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Missing a starter and a key reserve due to injury (Maik Kotsar and T.J. Moss, respectively), this game went about as you’d expect for South Carolina, culminating in a 69-52 loss. The Gamecocks managed to hang tough and put some pressure on Virginia in the first half, but the Cavaliers’ superior talent and stifling defense put the game out of reach early in the second stanza.

Chris Silva, hampered by his usual and unfortunate foul trouble demons, finished with 11 points to lead South Carolina, which has lost three straight. Hassani Gravett posted 10 points, and freshman big man Alanzo Frink had a bit of a coming out party with nine points and eight rebounds. Hopefully the Gamecocks have found something there, and can lean on him a bit more in future contests.

What to watch for

The Tigers, who are coming off last season’s Sweet 16 appearance to a solid 8-3 start, are bringing a very experienced group to Columbia. Veteran Marcquise Reed paces Clemson with 19.4 points per game, and three other Tigers are averaging double figures: Shelton Mitchell (14.5), Elijah Thomas (13.9), and Aamir Simms (11.2). The Tigers rolled over Georgia earlier in the year, although they have a pair of Top 25 losses to Nebraska and Mississippi State, and also had to fight for their lives against a feisty Radford squad. Clemson’s been a bit up-and-down — they actually started the season ranked in the Top 25 — but the veteran play they’re bringing to the table could be tough to handle for a young Gamecock team.