After a 10-day break for Final Exams, the South Carolina offense still seemed to be on break, falling to Clemson, 64-48, at Littlejohn Coliseum on Tuesday.
It took South Carolina almost four minutes to get its first field goal, and the offensive struggles continued building from there. The Gamecocks ended the first half shooting 38 percent from the field, along with struggling to hit 3-pointers.
The Gamecocks' first score from behind the arc did not come until 13 minutes into the second half, when Hassani Gravett nestled one in. The team shot just 14 percent overall in 3-pointers.
While the box score leaned in Clemson's favor, head coach Frank Martin said he was pleased with his team's performance.
“We’re a better team today than we were 10 days ago and with so many new guys, that’s all I’m focused in on right now is continuing to get better. Because at the end of the day, our goal, our mission, is to be standing tall at the end of SEC play,” Martin said.
As time progressed in the first half, the Gamecocks appeared to pick up momentum but still struggled to find the net. Gravett’s early 3-pointer was his only score of the contest. Similar to Gravett, the South Carolina freshmen could not find momentum, including David Beatty, Justin Minaya and Felipe Hasse, who all scored five points or less individually.
“Our freshmen just have to get a little tougher,” Martin said.
Martin added, “[Tuesday] we went against seniors and our some of our freshmen struggled with the speed and the physicality. You’ve got to understand; when we practice, we basically got first-year guy on first-year guy, so it’s all a great lesson.”
Junior Chris Silva was one of the brighter spots for the Gamecocks in the loss. He had the Gamecocks' only points for a majority of the first half, and finished the night with 12 points.
Redshirt junior Kory Holden was also having a strong night, but went down in the second half with an apparent hamstring injury. Martin said after the game that he didn't know the extent of the injury, but felt bad for Holden. Holden was already working to recover from a patella tendon injury, which he had surgery for one year ago.
“When you tear your patella tendon, you don’t just jump out of bed and say let’s go hoop. It takes time; my heart goes out to him,” Martin said. “He’s been getting better every day, he’s feeling better about himself and now it’s something with his hamstring, so my heart goes out to him.”
The Gamecocks will get ready for their final non-conference opponent of the regular season when they host Limestone on Dec. 27. Martin aims to improve his team’s offense, but in the meantime wants to celebrate what his team has accomplished over the past 10 days, he said.
“We guarded them,” Martin said of the biggest improvement he saw against the Tigers. “They average 79 points a game. They scored 64 today. I thought defensively we fought them. I’ve got no complaints in the fight in our guys.”