COLUMBIA, S.C. — It took more than 59 minutes for either Clemson or South Carolina to put its in-state rival away on Wednesday night.
Late free throws pushed Clemson over the edge in the final minute, as the Tigers scored their final 5 points from the line and No. 22 South Carolina (9-2) fell, 62-60, to its rival on Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena.
South Carolina either led or the game was tied for 4:45 until Clemson took the lead until a pair of free throws from Marcquise Reed gave the Tigers a 59-58 lead.
Sophomore guard P.J. Dozier was the South Carolina offense early and he paced the Gamecocks with a career-high 26 points, as they fell just short in a game where neither team led by double digits. Dozier had a look from 3-point range with less than 10 seconds left, but it hit rim and bounced away.
The teams opened the second half at a frantic back-and-forth pace. South Carolina pieced together more offense, scoring 6 points in a row as a Dozier jumper got the scoring started.
The teams traded baskets throughout, even sharing the same scoring slump in the early portion of the second half. Once they broke out of it, it was tight through the rest of the second half, with neither team taking a lead of more than 4 points.
Dozier gave South Carolina its first 4-point lead, but a Clemson jumper 10 seconds later brought the lead back to 2 at 54-52. Maik Kotsar’s elbow jumper soon after pushed the lead back to 4, but Elijah Thomas dunked 13 seconds later to cut it back to 2.
It was Clemson’s first win against a ranked nonconference team in the school’s history.
Player of the game
The sophomore guard was the only offensive presence for South Carolina in the first half. He scored 13 of the team’s 25 points in the first half.
He finished with more than 20 points for the fifth consecutive game.
South Carolina held a one-point lead and looked primed to get the ball back when Khadim Gueye blocked Marcquise Reed’s jumper, but the big man was called for a foul on the block. Reed made both, giving Clemson a 59-58 lead.
South Carolina missed two 3-point attempts on the ensuing possession.
What’s next for South Carolina basketball
South Carolina plays at Memphis (8-3) on Dec. 30.
South Carolina vs. Clemson box score