By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- In a rocking Littlejohn Coliseum, the Clemson Tigers Basketball team came out hoping to get revenge on the South Carolina Gamecocks after losing to them the year before. At the half, although the Tigers had a 35-28 lead on the Gamecocks, a huge momentum shift for the Gamecocks came with Bruce Ellington’s three point shot made while the seconds dwindled.
The second half was anything but pretty for either team as neither team seemed to be able to get their shots off. The Tigers made only 7-24 shots in the second half making only 29.2% after making 46.2% in the first half. Although the Tigers held onto the lead for the majority of the game, the Gamecocks were able to take control after a few uncontested shots and took the game 58-55.
The leaders for the Tigers this afternoon were Catalin Baciu who scored 10 points in the 9 minutes that he played and also grabbed 3 rebounds and a blocked shot to add a spark for Brad Brownell and company. Tanner Smith also came up big for the Tigers with 12 points and 6 rebounds.
The Tigers were cold from behind the arc tonight as shooter Andre Young was only 2-9, and 3-11 from the field.
However, although today’s game wasn’t pretty the Tigers’ loss to South Carolina last season served as a turnaround for the Tigers as they fought their way out of the slump of losing to their instate rivals and battled during the ACC season, competing every game, making their way into the NCAA tournament for the 4th season in a row.
“The biggest thing right now is for us to develop as players individually and develop our skill sets,” Andre Young said after the game. “We need to learn different ways to score make plays and get to the free throw line.”
The biggest thing for the Tigers in the second half was their inability to finish, as they had several opportunities to put points on the board but either missed an easy layup by not going up hard enough or by getting their shot blocked.
“In the second half we couldn’t finish plays down low, couldn’t make shots,” Young said. “We’ve got to find ways to get to the free throw line, that’s the emphasis offensively. Just being able to score, get freebies and score without the clock going and finishing plays down low.”
Head Coach Brad Brownell believes this game to be a tale of two halves as his team played well in the first half however were not able to finish the game how they started.
“I thought we played well in the first half, executed and made shots,” Brownell said. “Second half, both teams were grinding it out and baskets were hard to come by. Our shooters that normally make shots weren’t making them today and we had some plays in the paint, baskets around the rim that were blocked, missed or hurried, that were the difference.”
Although Brownell believes his team defended well, he knows that in order for the Tigers to compete the rest of the season, they’ll have to be able to scrap together a few more points.
Next the Tigers will take on the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday at 4:00 PM. The matchup will be televised by Fox Spots Network.