Dec. 22, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 22/20 South Carolina (9-2) fell at home Wednesday night to Clemson (9-2), 62-60. PJ Dozier tallied a new career-high 26 points on 10-of-22 shooting. He also had eight rebounds and led the team with five assists.
Colonial Life Arena was electric from the start, as sophomore Chris Silva threw down a thunderous dunk on the game’s first possession. From there, it went back-and-forth and Carolina took a 7-6 lead at the first media timeout with 15:37 left. Three different Gamecocks scored the team’s first seven points.
Donte Grantham gave the Tigers a 12-10 lead with 12:29 left in the half after hitting a 3 from the right wing. His made long ball ended an over four-minute field goal draught for Clemson.
The Tigers pushed the lead to 17-14 with 7:32 left after another bucket by Grantham. A Dozier layup versus contact in the lane brought Carolina within two at 21-19 with 5:48 left. The hoop was Dozier’s 11th point, as he was the game’s first player in double-figures.
Sophomore guard Hassani Gravett pushed the ball ahead and brought the Gamecock faithful to their feet after scoring in transition to tie the game at 25-25 with 2:04 left in the opening half. Clemson ended a 2:43 scoring draught with a pair of Elijah Thomas free throws moments later to regain the lead 27-25.
The Tigers held a 29-25 edge as the horn sounded at the end of the first half. Dozier led all scorers at the break with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He was 2-for-2 from 3. Grantham and Thomas led Clemson with eight each. Carolina shot 11-for-29 (37.9 percent) in half one, while the Tigers were 11-for-26 (42.3 percent).
The Gamecocks opened the second half on a 6-0 run to regain the lead 31-29. They pushed the run to 8-3 after a dunk by Dozier that made it 33-32 with 18:07 left, but Clemson retook the lead 37-35 at the first media timeout of the second half with 15:48 remaining.
The score would remain 37-35 for the next 3:48 as both teams ramped up their defensive pressure. Maik Kotsar’s layup with 13:20 left ended the draught for both teams. Carolina held a 39-37 advantage at the next media timeout with 11:27 left. A pair of free throws snapped a 6:05 scoring draught for the Tigers and brought them within one at 40-39 with 11:03 on the clock.
Silva converted an and-1 to put the Gamecocks up 46-43 with 8:40 to go. Clemson’s leading-scorer Jaron Blossomgame brought them within one again at 47-46 with 6:26 remaining.
The Gamecocks led 54-52 at the final media timeout with 3:32 remaining. Dozier made a tough, second-effort bucket to put Carolina up three, but Blossomgame made a tip in on the ensuing possession to bring the Tigers back within one. Head coach Frank Martin then took a timeout with 1:14 left, his team up 58-57.
Two free throws by Marcquise Reed put Clemson up 59-58 with 52 seconds left. Carolina got two 3-point looks, but senior Justin McKie and Gravett’s shots just missed and the Gamecocks were forced to foul with 20.3 seconds left. Avry Holmes hit both to put the Tigers up three before PJ Dozier then was fouled with 9.8 seconds left and hit both to bring Carolina within one at 61-60. Holmes was fouled again with 9.2 on the game clock. He made the first and missed the second, but the Gamecocks were unable to convert on the opposite end and the Tigers held on for the 62-60 victory.
The Tigers went 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the game’s final minute and outscored the Gamecocks bench, 29-3.
- Sophomore guard PJ Dozier had a new career-high 26 points. Tonight was his fifth-straight game with 20-plus.
- Carolina’s defense has had eight-plus steals in six-straight games.
- Dozier tied a career-high with 34 minutes played.
- Sophomore forward Chris Silva tallied a new career-high with 14 points.
- Freshman Maik Kotsar was also in double-figures for the Gamecocks with 10 points. Kotsar and Dozier tied for the team lead with eight rebounds.
- Tonight’s loss was just the fourth for Carolina in its last 27 home games.
South Carolina will take a break for the Christmas holiday before welcoming Lander to Colonial Life Arena for a 7 p.m. ET matchup on Dec. 27. The meeting marks the second all-time between the two schools and the first since the 1988 campaign. The matchup will be broadcast nationally on the SEC Network with Tom Werme (pxp) and Kyle Macy (analyst) on the call.
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