Downey's career night not enough against CU

The Gamecocks and Tigers took the court Tuesday night in front of a raucous, capacity crowd at Colonial Life Arena. Fans of both sides were treated to a show, as one of the country's top players took on one of the country's top teams. Devan Downey had a game for the ages, but Clemson's depth was too strong, as the Tigers escaped with a physical 98-87 win.


South Carolina started the game strong, racing out to a 14-3 lead. Carolina scored the first six points, forcing Clemson to call a timeout. The timeout did not help much, as the Gamecocks did not slow down until the under-16 media timeout.

"I don't think they quite got the message today when I told them how hard South Carolina was going to come out," Oliver Purnell said of his Tigers. "The crowd was really into the game and really involved, and made a difference."

Dominique Archie keyed the run, scoring 5 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, and getting an assist, a block, and a drawn charge to go with great defense. However, he picked up two early fouls in the process, and would be plagued by foul trouble the entire game. Archie played just 19 minutes, and his absence was especially felt when Carolina tried to break the Clemson press.

"He is so important to what we do, especially with us being short-handed, that the drop-off is big," said Darrin Horn.

The Tigers responded with 25-8 run keyed by Gamecock turnovers. In the first half, the Gamecocks had 11 turnovers, only two more than Clemson, but those turnovers were converted into 23 Tiger points (compared to 13 points off turnovers for Carolina). The Tigers led 56-44 at the half.

"From the sixteen minute mark on in the first half, they dominated the game in every way," said Horn.

Midway through the half, Downey took over for the Gamecocks. Playing like a man possessed, he scored 21 points on 8-9 shooting. However, he had 5 turnovers and no assists, which was symptomatic of Carolina's two problems. Besides the turnovers, Downey was getting no help. Not surprisingly, he was unable to keep up the pace, and finished the game with 37, still a career-high, but finished the game with no assists and 8 turnovers. He said he could not remember ever finishing a game with no assists before.

"I played a horrible game," Downey said. "I had zero assists and eight turnovers. If we're going to beat a Top 25 team, I've got to do a better job of being a point guard."

"I wouldn't trade Devan Downey for anybody in America," Horn said. "He's got tremendous heart and a tremendous will to win. What you saw tonight was that. As he continues to grow as a player and point guard and understand the other little things you do to help your team win besides scoring, I think you're talking about a guy that's really, really special."

"You've got to give credit to that kid, he's so tough, we didn't keep him out of the lane," said Purnell. "He's terrific."

Clemson, on the other hand, was able to wear away at Carolina. Carolina had four players in double figures, but Archie barely made the cut with 10 points, and Mike Holmes had 13 (and 11 rebounds). The Tigers had five players score in double figures, and K.C. Rivers and Terrence Oglesby both scored over 20, with Trevor Booker at 18 (and 10 rebounds). Perhaps more tellingly, everyone who played scored for Clemson, while the Gamecocks got no scoring contribution from three players (Robert Wilder, Mitchell Carter, and Evka Baniulis), and just five points total off the bench. Clemson had just two players play more than 30 minutes, and had eight players play at least ten. The Gamecocks had four players play 36 minutes or more, and just six played more than ten.

"We got a lot of contributions out of a lot of people," Purnell said. "Overall I'm just very pleased to get a win, and anytime you beat your state rival, you're pretty happy with that."

Oglesby was particularly effective. He made 6-10 from long range, but more importantly, he seemed to make a basket every time the Gamecocks tried to make a run. The Tigers led by as many as 18 before Carolina cut down on the turnovers, actually finishing with fewer turnovers than the Tigers, and made a run late in the game to get within six. Oglesby drained a three pointer, and then stole the ensuing inbounds pass for a layup to push the lead back to 11.

"I thought the biggest difference was the three threes Oglesby hit," Horn said. "Those all came at crucial times when we had started to make a little run and gain a little momentum. If those don't go down and we can get a score, it changes the way the game goes."

"He's a big time threat for us," said Purnell. "He's a dangerous player. As long as he plays within himself and he's patient, he's like an assassin out there.


Notes:

- Downey's previous career-high was 30 last season against Penn State. His 37 were the most points ever scored at Colonial Life Arena. The previous record was 35 by Kentucky's Joe Crawford on March 5, 2008

- Zam Fredrick scored 19 points on 7-18 shooting. He also shot 7-18 against Gardner-Webb, scoring 18.

- The Gamecocks had just three assists. That is the fewest assists since Carolina had three at Kentucky on February 7, 2004.

- Mike Holmes had his fourth double-double of the season, matching his season total from last year.

- Carolina trailed 56-44 at halftime, the first time the Gamecocks have trailed at halftime all year.

- Attendance was announced at 16,168. - Clemson's 98 points were the most scored by an opponent at Colonial Life Arena since Vanderbilt scored 99 in an overtime win on February 28, 2007.


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