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Jan. 30, 2015


COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 29 South Carolina returns home this weekend, looking to improve on its 3-1 record when it takes on rival No. 28 Clemson (2-2) at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the University of South Carolina Fieldhouse. Admission and parking are free and the first 200 fans will receive “Our State” rally towels.

The Gamecocks are 5-2 against the Tigers in their last seven meetings but dropped last season’s matchup, 4-1. South Carolina’s last victory over Clemson came in 2013, earning a 4-3 decision that featured singles wins from three current Gamecocks – Andrew Adams, Thiago Pinheiro and Kyle Koch. Now seniors and leaders of the team, the trio looks to notch one more rivalry win before the conclusion of their careers.

“I think the guys naturally feel (extra motivation) with it being the Clemson-Carolina rivalry,” head coach Josh Goffi said. “It runs through every sport and every athlete and every fan.”

Adams, O’Keefe and Andrew Schafer (83) are a combined 9-2 in singles dual matches this season. Adams, who enters the weekend at 3-1, has never lost a singles match against the Tigers. Schafer, a sophomore, comes in with a 3-0 record, earning victories against then-No. 55 Elon, Furman and then-No. 31 Stanford. Koch (118) dropped his fist singles match of the season last weekend against then-No. 32 Ole Miss, but is a 2-0 when playing from the No. 2 spot this spring. Thiago Pinheiro (71), playing out of the No. 1 position for the first time in his career, serves as the team’s emotional leader on and off the court.

After opening the season with two wins against Elon and Furman, the Gamecocks traveled to Gainesville, Fla., for ITA Kickoff Weekend to take on two top-35 teams, Stanford and Ole Miss. The Gamecocks captured the doubles point in both showdowns, highlighted by the nation’s No. 46 pairing Thomas Mayronne / Harrison O’Keefe, who won both of their matches over the course of the weekend. O’Keefe also claimed hard-earned victories in each of his singles matches, including the Gamecocks’ only singles point against the Rebels.

Clemson enters the weekend at an even 2-2 after opening its season with consecutive 7-0 victories over Winthrop and Davidson followed by a 4-2 loss to then-No. 23 Memphis and a 4-1 loss to then-No. 18 Wake Forest. The Tigers are led by senior Hunter Harrington (69), who enters the match with a 2-1 singles record. Harrington, who has played from the No. 3 position in each of his matches, earned his first decision in Clemson’s second match of the year when he downed Davidson’s Shamael Chaudry in two sets. He followed up the performance with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Memphis’ Connor Glennon (79). Clemson took the doubles point in three of its four matches this season with its only doubles loss coming against Memphis.

After taking on Clemson, the Gamecocks face a busy stretch in their schedule that includes three home matches next weekend against No. 19 Wake Forest and a doubleheader against No. 31 NC State and Wofford. South Carolina hosts the Demon Deacons on Fri., Feb. 6, at 4 p.m. and will start its doubleheader against the Wolf Pack and Terriers at 11 a.m. on Sun., Feb. 8.