GREENVILLE (AP) — Michael Carrera scored 14 points and freshman PJ Dozier had 13 as South Carolina gave up most of a 20-point lead before holding on to defeat rival Clemson 65-59 and open 10-0 for the first time in 82 years.
South Carolina looked like it had this one wrapped up early, ahead 38-18 in the opening half. But Clemson (7-4) rallied back in the second period to cut the lead to 57-53 on Donte Grantham’s put-back basket with 6:10 to go. The Tigers made only one of their next six baskets in falling to the Gamecocks for a second straight season.
South Carolina matched the start of its 1933-34 team, which opened 17-0.
The Gamecocks have a long way to go to catch that team, although balanced scoring like they showed against Clemson will help with four players in double figures.
Jaron Blossomgame had 17 points to lead Clemson.
Duane Notice and Mindaugas Kacinas had 10 points apiece for South Carolina.
It was the second time in a week Clemson rallied back against a Southeastern Conference opponent yet fell short, This past Sunday, the Tigers erased an 11-point deficit against Alabama and led 50-49 in the final minute. Shannon Hale’s steal and dunk in the last seconds sent Clemson to defeat.
Grantham finished with 16 points off four 3-pointers for the Tigers.
Clemson came in hoping to end the undefeated start by its state rival and keep the good vibes flowing after the Tigers took the football matchup three weeks ago, 37-32.
And Clemson opened a 13-9 lead on Grantham’s second 3-pointer of the half with 13:13 left in the half.
That’s when South Carolina began its crushing run, outscoring the Tigers 24-1 over the next eight minutes.
Kacinas started the charge with a three-point play and a jumper before Carrera hit two consecutive 3-pointers. Sindarius Thornwell had a high-flying monster jam over Landry Nnoko and when Notice added a long range basket, the Gamecocks were up 33-14 and cruising.
Clemson missed 11 straight shots at one point in South Carolina’s run.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks came into this one the only undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference. … Despite committing just six fewer turnovers in total over the last three games, South Carolina is averaging 15.6 points more off turnovers per game than opponents in that span.
Clemson: It has been a big week at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for Tigers senior guard Jordan Roper. He received his bachelor’s degree in ceremonies here Thursday — Clemson’s on-campus arena is undergoing yearlong, top-to-bottom renovations — before facing the rival Gamecocks. He’s the first Tiger to compete with a degree since Bryan Narcisse and Tanner Smith did it in 2011-12.
South Carolina faces St. John’s at the Hall of Fame Shootout in Connecticut on Tuesday night.
Clemson faces its third SEC team in four games when it plays at Georgia on Tuesday night.