Tigers Fall to South Carolina, 76-61

The Clemson Tigers jumped out to a 33-30 halftime lead Saturday evening at Littlejohn Coliseum, but they couldn't hold on in the second half falling to archrival South Carolina, 76-61.

Carlos Powell scored 23 points to lead the Gamecocks (8-0), while senior forward Chris Hobbs scored 13 to pace the Tigers (3-2).

South Carolina took control midway through the second half using a perplexing zone defense and never looked back in a 76-61 win. It was the fourth straight win for South Carolina in the series.

Clemson would take control early in the game with a 7-2 lead. An early three pointer by Vernon Hamilton and some tenacious defense by Chris Hobbs and company sparked Clemson in the opening stages of the game.

South Carolina was not to be denied however as the Gamecocks would rally behind a 1-3-1 zone to take a 22-18 lead with just 8 minutes left in the opening half.

Nevertheless, at the end of a sloppy first half of play, the Tigers found themselves ahead, 33-30, despite 15 turnovers. Both teams shot poorly from the field, with the Gamecocks managing to make only 11-of-31 shots (35%) and the Tigers only connecting on 11-of-26 themselves for 42%.

The second half was nip and tuck the whole way as neither team could pull away from the other. Head coach Oliver Purnell switched to a 2-3 zone defense and the Gamecocks wouldn't score for a span of over 3 minutes.

The problem was that neither could Clemson.

Shawan Robinson would break a 40-40 tie with two free throws with 12:22 left in the second half to put the Tigers ahead by 2, but South Carolina would go on an 23-10 run, led by Carlos Powell to go back ahead by 13 at 63-50 with just under 5 minutes left in the game.

It was almost the exact same run that South Carolina used a year ago to send the Tigers reeling. The last time these two teams squared off, the Gamecocks closed out the last 5 minutes of the game on a 26-10 run.

South Carolina would make their free throws down the stretch and Clemson would get no closer than 9 points the rest of the way out in losing their second game in a row.

Clemson will next face the Georgia Bulldogs next weekend at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia next Saturday.

Other Notes
* Freshman point guard Vernon Hamilton continues to play hard on both of ends of the court. He's tenacious on defense, a solid ball handler, but still needs to work on his decision-making. The Richmond, Virginia native had 6 first half turnovers.

* Clemson SID Tim Bourret celebrated a birthday Saturday, but there wasn't much celebrating after the Tigers lost, and his alma mater Notre Dame was blown out earlier in the day against Syracuse. An old picture of Bourret was posted on the game program for the media before the game. It was a picture of of Bourret bouncing a basketball back in the 1970's.

* The Tigers actually scored more points against South Carolina on the gridiron this year (63) than on the hardwood (61).

* The Gamecocks forced 27 turnovers on the evening.

* The Tigers made 21-of-25 (84%) free throw attempts in the game.

Box Score
SOUTH CAROLINA (8-0): Powell 9-18 5-7 23, Kinsey 2-6 6-6 11, Brown 4-5 0-0 10, Boynton 1-4 6-6 9, Gonner 4-13 3-4 13, Kelley 0-0 0-0 0, Howell 0-0 0-0 0, Joneliunas 0-0 0-0 0, Everett 0-0 0-0 0, Wallace 1-5 1-1 3, Balkman 2-4 0-0 5, Chappell 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 23-55 23-26 76.

CLEMSON (3-2): Babalola 3-8 4-4 11, Hobbs 5-11 3-4 13, Ford 2-5 4-7 8, Hamilton 2-7 0-0 5, Christie 2-6 4-4 9, Betko 0-0 0-0 0, Rice 0-1 0-0 0, Hudson 0-0 0-0 0, Robinson 2-5 6-6 11, Akinbala 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 18-46 21-25 61.

Halftime — Clemson 33-30. 3-Point goals — SCarolina 7-21 (Powell 0-4, Kinsey 1-2, Brown 2-3, Boynton 1-4, Gonner 2-5, Wallace 0-1, Balkman 1-2), Clemson 4-17 (Babalola 1-3, Ford 0-1, Hamilton 1-3, Christie 1-5, Rice 0-1, Robinson 1-4). Fouled out — Ford, Christie. Rebounds — SCarolina 28 (Powell 6), Clemson 35 (Babalola 11). Assists — SCarolina 16 (Gonner 5), Clemson 10 (Christie 5). Total fouls — SCarolina 21, Clemson 24. A — 9,000.

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