The men’s basketball team will look to snap a four game losing streak to the University of South Carolina on Saturday night. The Tigers have shown great strides in the early season. For the second time in three games, the Tigers will travel to face a team that made the field of 65 last season.
Last Friday night, the Tigers played well in Chestnut Hill against Boston College. The biggest downfall was BC shot 27 free throws to Clemson’s 4. The difference was not because of poor officiating, rather the Tigers needed to be more aggressive towards the rim. Something the Tigers did show an improvement with against Ohio State.
Sharrod Ford will have an advantage inside against Brandon Wallace. Ford has nearly a 40 pound weight advantage over Wallace. South Carolina Head Coach Dave Odum may use Carlos Powell or Renaldo Balkman to guard Ford. Ford and Akin Akingbala could be a big advantage for the Tigers Saturday night. Also, James Mays and Steve Allen who both have played well off the bench this year could be valuable in wearing down the Gamecocks.
The Tigers must key on Powell. Powell leads the Gamecocks in scoring, rebounding, and minutes played. He is shooting 64.6% from the field and 76.9% from the line. The game plan should be to force Powell to shoot from the outside. Powell is only averaging 14.3% from beyond the arc.
The Gamecocks may hold an edge on the perimeter, but Clemson will show a different type of defensive intensity than sophomore point Tre Kelley has seen. Kelley is having to replace Michael Boynton who was clearly the floor leader on last year’s team. Clemson’s full court pressure could frustrate the young point guard Kelley, but Josh Gonnor and Tarence Kinsey will be difficult matchups for the Tigers. Kinsey is the second leading scorer at 14 points per game, and his length could pose difficulties for the Tigers offensively..
Winning the battle of the boards is a must for a Tiger victory. The Tigers have an advantage inside and must be able to exploit the mismatch inside. Hitting some outside shots early will allow the Tigers big men to move freely inside. Also, with a young team on the road you need to minimize turnovers and hit free throws.
This could potentially be a big momentum swing for the Tigers. A win and this team could be 7-1 heading into the Rainbow Classic match up against Alabama-Birmingham.