Hampered by early foul trouble, Landry Nnoko committed his second infraction with 11:09 remaining in the first half and was sidelined for much of the half. Sidy Djitte played admirably in place of Nnoko, but also found himself in foul trouble, whistled for his fourth foul with 13:46 remaining in the game.
The Gamecocks jumped to an early 19-7 lead, but a one-handed Damarcus Harrison slam sparked a 12-4 run to breathe new life into the Tigers. After a back and forth affair to end the half, Clemson was able to take the lead on a Rod Hall layup with seven seconds remaining to enter the half ahead 30-28.
The Gamecocks would regain the lead in the early second half, a lead that would not be relinquished the remainder of the game.
One of the keys to the Tigers’ late first half success was the switch from a man-to-man defense in favor of a zone defense. Clemson forced turnovers that were converted to easy points and South Carolina struggled shooting against the zone.
Brad Brownell’s team returned to the zone to begin the second half, but the Gamecocks were more successful the second time around. Notice hit a contested three to stretch the lead to 44-36 and South Carolina would hit consecutive threes on the ensuing possessions to place the game firmly out of reach.
“I think they turned it up another notch in the second half,” Brownell said. “They made three threes in a row that really blew the game open. Offensively it was hard for us, once they got the crowd into the game and got some momentum it was tough sledding for us.”
Jaron Blossomgame scored 14 points to pace the Tigers. Clemson returns to Littlejohn Coliseum to face Oakland at 7 p.m. on December 22.