Tigers tangle with Gamecocks, look to snap three-game losing streak
|Saturday, December 14, 2019, 8:01 AM- -|
CLEMSON - Clemson head coach Brad Brownell and the Clemson Men’s Basketball team look to end their three-game losing streak Sunday at Littlejohn Coliseum against in-state rival South Carolina.
The Tigers have not played at home since November 21st when they routed Alabama A&M. The road stretch proved not to be kind to the Tigers as they experienced blowout losses to both Minnesota and Florida State. The three-game skid started with a loss to Colorado in Las Vegas.
“We just need to play better,” Brownell said. “I thought we played very well against Colorado and probably ran out of gas at the end. And then the last two games, we only played well for halves. In the second half of both Minnesota and Florida State, we played very poorly.”
Both South Carolina and Clemson have struggled to start off the year, with the Gamecocks at 6-4 and the Tigers at 5-4.
Clemson has won the past three matchups with South Carolina, but all streaks go out the window when these rivals match up on the court.
“It’s one of our biggest competitors. And it’s certainly a game that is important to our fans and our team,” Brownell said. “It’s a really competitive game. It’s certainly a fierce, but good rivalry.”
This Clemson team has been plagued by the injury bug as of late. Junior Clyde Trapp, as well as freshmen Alex Hemenway and Chase Hunter, have all been sidelined with injuries and junior Jonathan Baehre just returned from a preseason injury. With only eight scholarship players that are able to play, the Tigers have struggled to get in a groove so each player can get comfortable.
“It’s probably been a little more challenging than I would’ve liked,” Brownell said. “As much of anything, not having as many bodies in practice to go competitively against one another.”
If Clemson wants to up their win streak over South Carolina on Sunday, the Tigers will have to pay important attention to both A.J. Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant.
“(Lawson) is a great player. He is an NBA-level talent guy that has tremendous experience playing overseas as well as being a primary player now for South Carolina,” Brownell said. “(Bryant) is a tremendous athlete and a fiercely competitive guy. He is really good at attacking you in closeout situations and a very good offensive rebounder.”
As always, the crowd plays a huge role in the momentum of the game. The Tigers feed off the energy from the crowd, but coach Brownell knows that his team must provide a spark to give the crowd that energy.
“We need our fans to come out and support us. There is no doubt that the energy level that we get from our crowd gives us a tremendous boost,” Brownell said. “At the same time, we’ve got to make sure we are playing in a way that excites our fans and we are trying to do that.”
This game feels like it is a must-win for both programs as they have both been struggling as of late. If Clemson wants to get back in the win column, they will need to put together two good halves of basketball, unlike in their last two games.
The Tigers and Gamecocks will tip-off at 5 p.m. Sunday and the game will air on ESPN2.