COLUMBIA, S.C. – The way things played out between South Carolina and Clemson on Wednesday night, it was fitting that the game would remain a one-score affair no matter the outcome of Avery Holmes’ two free throws.
As it went, Holmes made the first and missed the second, leaving Clemson with a two-point lead with less than 10 seconds to play and the ball in South Carolina’s hands.
Coach Frank Martin drew up the two options for the final play in a timeout prior to Holmes’ free throws, both looking to get the ball in P.J. Dozier’s hands. It worked out that way, but Dozier’s 3-pointer from the wing bounced off the rim and No. 22 South Carolina lost 62.60 to its rival.
“One-possession game, two-point game, probably should have attacked the rim,” Dozier said. “Pulled up for a jump shot and missed.”
In a game that never felt like either team had control, it was only right for the game to come down to the final possession. Neither team led by more than 4 points, with South Carolina holding that edge for a total of 23 seconds in the second half between two moments.
The design for a play with Holmes missing either one or two free throws was to get to the rim, Martin said. The plan was to get Dozier and guard Duane Notice moving around and the rest of the team running “to the same spots” to allow the guards room to create.
In the case that Holmes made both free throws to push the game to a three-point lead, Martin intended for Dozier to trail the play for a potential 3-pointer.
Instead, Dozier got the ball in his hands off Holmes’ missed free throw, dribbled to his right and pulled a slightly off-balance 3-pointer for the win.
“P.J. made a decision that he had a guy that is 8 inches shorter than him, so he can pop up and see the rim,” Martin said. “He took a chance and took that 3 to win it and it just didn’t go in.”