South Carolina holds off rival Clemson 65-59 to open 10-0
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Frank Martin wasn't going to feel bad about this victory, no matter how close the Gamecocks came to blowing a 20-point lead over rival Clemson.
Michael Carrera scored 14 points and freshman PJ Dozier had 13 as South Carolina gave up most of its large lead before holding on to defeat rival Clemson 65-59 and open 10-0 for the first time in 82 years.
''When you go on the road and win, you do cartwheels on the highway all the way home,'' said Martin, South Carolina's fourth year coach who's got his team off to its best start since 1933-34.
That group, led by coach A.W. Norman, won its first 17 games before losing. Martin's not worried about any of that, just about prepping for the next one.
''We've got to stay in the moment,'' Martin said.
It was an almost a moment to forget for the Gamecocks, who led 38-18 in the first half before seeing the margin shrink to 57-53 with six minutes left. Still, South Carolina held on with defense and timely foul shooting to remain undefeated.
''It feels good, not just that we beat Clemson, but that we continued our winning streak,'' South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell said.
Clemson (7-4) rallied back in the second period to cut the lead to 57-53 on Donte Grantham's put-back basket with 6:10 to go. The Tigers made only one of their next six baskets in falling to the Gamecocks for a second straight season.
Jaron Blossomgame had 17 points to lead Clemson.
Duane Notice and Mindaugas Kacinas had 10 points apiece for South Carolina.
It was the second time in a week Clemson rallied back against a Southeastern Conference opponent yet fell short, This past Sunday, the Tigers erased an 11-point deficit against Alabama and led 50-49 in the final minute. Shannon Hale's steal and dunk in the last seconds sent Clemson to defeat.
Grantham finished with 16 points off four 3-pointers for the Tigers.
Clemson opened a 13-9 lead on Donte Grantham's second 3-pointer of the half with 13:13 left in the half. South Carolina outscored the Tigers 24-1 over the next eight minutes to take control.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell said his players have not found their solid, steady footing so far.
''My team right now is a little too emotional,'' he said.
Clemson missed 11 straight shots at one point in South Carolina's run.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks came into this one the only undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference. ... Despite committing just six fewer turnovers in total over the last three games, South Carolina is averaging 15.6 points more off turnovers per game than opponents in that span.
Clemson: It has been a big week at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for Tigers senior guard Jordan Roper. He received his bachelor's degree in ceremonies here Thursday - Clemson's on-campus arena is undergoing yearlong, top-to-bottom renovations - before facing the rival Gamecocks. He's the first Tiger to compete with a degree since Bryan Narcisse and Tanner Smith did it in 2011-12.
South Carolina's win kept the school's basketball teams perfect on the season, a combined 20-0 with both the men and the women's basketball teams off to 10-0 starts. No. 2 South Carolina and coach Dawn Staley get the next chance to keep that going against East Carolina on Sunday in Myrtle Beach.
South Carolina junior Sindarius Thornwell had a crowd-pleasing, high-flying jam over Clemson's 6-foot-10 center Landry Nnoko that will surely make the sports highlights. Thornwell, who had offseason procedures to lessen tendinitis in his knees, said it felt good to elevate and show that he's getting himself back into the form that had him on the all-SEC freshman team two years ago.
South Carolina faces St. John's at the Hall of Fame Shootout in Connecticut on Tuesday night.
Clemson faces its third SEC team in four games when it plays at Georgia on Tuesday night.