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South Carolina braces for stiff challenge from Clemson

Sportsnaut
Dec 5, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Georgetown Hoyas guard Donald Carey (13) drives against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Georgetown Hoyas guard Donald Carey (13) drives against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Another COVID-19 outbreak involving South Carolina has threatened to affect Saturday’s game at Clemson.

The Gamecocks, who endured several interruptions last season due to the virus, were down six players due to COVID-19 and injuries, according to coach Frank Martin. South Carolina’s game against Clemson last year was canceled due to a coronavirus outbreak.

“We’ll have enough to play the game,” Martin said Thursday night on his weekly radio show. “We’ll go up there. We’ll battle and fight our tails off. I have unbelievable confidence in the guys on our team, and we’ll figure it out.”

Clemson coach Brad Brownell on Friday said he was “hopeful” the game would go on as planned. He added that the schools’ officials had spoken and were “still planning” for the game to be played.

“This is a scary time for a team,” Brownell said. “Once (COVID-19) gets into your team, you just don’t know what it’s going to mean.”

Both Clemson and South Carolina are coming off victories on Tuesday. The Atlantic Coast Conference Tigers (7-4) won their second straight game with an 89-76 victory over Miami, Ohio, while the Southeastern Conference Gamecocks (8-2) cruised to a 110-51 triumph over NAIA-member Allen to increase their winning streak to three games.

Martin did not specify which players will miss Saturday’s game due to COVID-19 but he said A.J. Wilson (knee) won’t play.

Jermaine Couisnard, sidelined the past two games with an ankle injury, leads the Gamecocks with 12.1 points per game. Other South Carolina players averaging double figures include Erik Stevenson (10.8), Wildens Leveque (10.5) and Keyshawn Bryant (10.2). Leveque also is grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game.

South Carolina has struggled shooting, hitting 43.4 percent overall, 31.4 percent from long distance and 65.0 percent from the free-throw line.

PJ Hall is averaging a team-high 14.5 points for the Tigers. Al-Amir Dawes (12.0), David Collins (11.6), Nick Honor (10.9) and Hunter Tyson (10.7) also average in double figures.

Both Hall (6.1 rebounds) and Collins (6.8) are strong off the boards. Dawes is sinking 48.3 percent of his shots from 3-point range.

–Field Level Media