Despite all of its hustle, emotion, and drama, Thursday night’s Clemson-South Carolina basketball game often took on the appearance of a rugby match. In other words, it was a typical Clemson-South Carolina match-up: ugly and sometimes painful to watch.
When the final buzzer sounded and the Tigers walked off the court with an improbable 61-58 victory, you can be assured that no Christmas pleasantries were exchanged between the two teams. Clemson center Adam Allenspach and South Carolina’s Tony Kitchings had to be separated in the tunnel leading to the team locker rooms while the coaching staffs of both teams exchanged heated words.
“I think it was a case of an adult acting like a child, me included,” said Clemson head coach Larry Shyatt.
Gamecock coach Eddie Fogler echoed Shyatt’s sentiments in his statements to the media.
“I’ll say the same thing,” Fogler said after being told of Shyatt’s comments.
“If we’re going to start this baloney here, I’m going to end it right now. I will say what Larry said. That’s what you can quote me as saying. Do a story on the game.”
- In his first live action in two years, freshman guard Pasha Bains finally suited up for the Tigers. Bains, a 6-3 transfer from The University of Wyoming, entered the game with 17:13 remaining in the first half and finished with four points, including a critical three-pointer with 2:33 left to play. Despite the clutch basket, Bains struggled to find his shot and committed three critical turnovers in the second half.
“I’m glad we got the win but I’m glad the game’s over, also, because I really didn’t feel comfortable out there,” Bains said.
Despite Bains’ struggles, Shyatt kept him in the lineup for most of the night.
“I can’t give the coaches enough credit for telling me, “Pasha, just play” and just relaxing me. I don’t want to make any predictions but I think it will be a lot smoother for me in the future than it was tonight,” said Bains.
- Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night for Clemson was the play of another freshman, 6-8 forward Ray Henderson. After missing most of the pre-season with a knee injury and seeing limited action in the Tigers’ first eight games, Henderson was huge against the Gamecocks, blocking four shots to go along with four points and four rebounds in only twelve minutes of action.
“It feels great. I knew it was what I could do. I’ve always been kind of a shot-blocker. It’s just that Coach Shyatt stresses not blocking shots and taking the charge. Tonight, I was like “I’m not taking a charge. I’ve got to get this out of here,”” Henderson said.
Despite being in his first Clemson-South Carolina game, Henderson played the part of the aggressor for most of the night, often exchanging words as well as shoves with the Gamecock big men.
“It made me upset because they were talking. They were trying to bully my teammates and I said, “I’ve got to go out there and help my teammates.” I just felt like I had to do something,” said Henderson.