Leading scorer Marcquise Reed returned to Clemson’s lineup for the first time in more than two weeks and led five Tigers in double figures in a 78-68 victory against in-state rival South Carolina Saturday afternoon at Carolina Coliseum in Columbia.
Reed, a preseason second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference pick, didn’t start the game but was dominant once he entered, scoring a game-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor. The senior guard, who wore a brace on his left knee, also had five rebounds and led Clemson with four assists and three steals.
Reed had missed the Tigers’ last three games after suffering a knee sprain late in Clemson’s win against Saint Peter’s on Dec. 4.
Clemson improved to 9-3 and defeated its in-state rival for a third consecutive year. South Carolina slipped to 4-7.
The Tigers are 8-1 in their last nine games against Southeastern Conference opponents.
Senior swingman David Skara added 14 points for Clemson while senior guard Shelton Mitchell and senior forward Elijah Thomas chipped in with 11 points apiece. Guard Clyde Trapp added 10.
Thomas and fellow forward Aamir Simms were saddled with early foul trouble and South Carolina led by as many as seven points, 19-12, with 11:53 left in the first half.
But Clemson began to heat up and closed the half on a 16-4 run to forge a 45-34 halftime lead. The Tigers shot 62 percent from the floor and made six three-pointers in the first half.
Clemson extended its advantage to 16 at 54-38 three-plus minutes into the second half on a jumper by Trapp before the Gamecocks battled back.
Freshman forward Keyshawn Bryant, who scored 10 points for South Carolina, had a fast-break dunk with 8:24 left to pull the Gamecocks within six, 63-57, and a later 5-0 run cut Clemson’s lead to just five, 67-62, with five minutes left.
But Clemson got two steals and a layup from Reed in the final three minutes to help keep the Gamecocks at bay. South Carolina never got closer than a five-point deficit in the waning minutes.
Senior center Chris Silva led South Carolina with 18 points and seven rebounds while senior guard Hassani Gravett added 14 points.
Clemson shot 56.5 percent as a team from the floor to the Gamecocks’ 36.5 percent.
—Field Level Media