COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -South Carolina and Clemson were set to meet on the basketball court Saturday, just a week after the rivals faced off in football.
For the Tigers (7-0), it will be another chance for victory after a 23-21 gridiron win while South Carolina (5-3) hopes to avenge not just that loss, but three straight defeats on the court.
``Obviously, our basketball team has not had a lot of success against them in the last three years,'' Gamecocks coach Dave Odom said. ``That's under my skin. ... Really when you look at it, I don't think anybody on our team has beaten Clemson. So, you know, it's a big game.''
Senior Clemson guard Cliff Hammonds agreed.
``I think everybody comes into these games mentally focused and ready to play,'' said Hammonds, the team's third-leading scorer this year with 12 points per game. ``It's a rivalry game, so you have to come with an edge.
``You don't want them to have bragging rights for a whole year.''
The Tigers have been able to boast recently - they won by one point in overtime in 2004, then had two easy wins.
Odom has made it clear this one is important - the Gamecocks have dropped three of their last five games.
``I want our team to play well ... and look like they know what they're doing,'' Odom said of his young squad. ``But I want them to win. That is the key.''
Sophomore forward Brandis Raley-Ross is also feeling pressure from his classmates, who told him: ``Don't do what the football team has done.''
South Carolina lost the football game on a last-second field goal. For the basketball team, too, the close games have gone to the other team - a 2-point loss to North Carolina State and a 1-point loss to George Mason at the Old Spice Classic in Florida last week.
``We want to show people we can win the close games,'' Raley-Ross said.
Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said he sees an improved guard play from the Gamecocks, including Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick.
``Any time you have a better backcourt, you have a better team most of the time,'' Purnell said. ``Certainly they are going through some growing pains as they develop their team, but I've seen them play awfully well during stretches this season.
``I think they're going to be a great basketball team. I hope they aren't Saturday.''
Purnell said his team will need to reproduce Wednesday's effort, when K.C. Rivers scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Tigers to a 61-58 come-from-behind win against Purdue.
They'll have to do it again without their second-leading scorer James Mays, who is averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds. Mays is expected to be out with a hip sprain until at least Dec. 20.
South Carolina leads the series 86-71, but Clemson has the edge at home, 43-30.

NCAAB Headlines

NCAAB Top Stories

Thumbnail Final Four Game Odds As Saturday’s Final Four games approach, here is a look at the odds for the two national semifinals.
Thumbnail TCU vs. Central Florida Prediction Which No. 4 seed will reach the NIT Tournament finals tonight when Central Florida faces TCU in the semifinals at...
Thumbnail Bakersfield vs. Georgia Tech Pick In an improbable NIT Tournament semifinal, eighth-seeded CSU Bakersfield will face off with No. 6 Georgia Tech tonight at 7PM ET. Which team will come away with a win...
Thumbnail Final Four Odds The NCAA Tournament is down to its Final Four. Here is an updated look at the odds to win this year’s national championship.
Thumbnail Kentucky vs. UNC Total Pick Will the South Regional Finalbetween North Carolinaand Kentuckybe another high-scoring game? Here’s our take on the total.

NCAAB Team Pages