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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson is on the cusp of the Top 25 and building a strong resume for March thanks to an offense that can win at any speed.
Held to its second lowest point total of the season, the Tigers (10-1) used a career-high 25 points from Marcquise Reed to beat South Carolina 64-48 on Tuesday night.
"Really, really good teams win in the 80s and win in the 50s," said Clemson coach Brad Brownell, whose team now has wins over South Carolina, Florida and Ohio State this season.
Clemson never trailed in the game, but couldn't put the Gamecocks (8-3) away either until the second half. Reed hit four of his five 3-pointers in the second half, including the 3 with 11:54 left that finally pushed Clemson's lead into double-digits for good at 43-32.
Reed had 18 of his 25 points in the second half, and Brownell said his junior had to settle down like much of the rest of his team in an emotional game against a bitter in-state rival.
"The longer the game went, the better we settled in as coaches and as players," Brownell said.
Chris Silva had 12 points and nine rebounds for South Carolina, and was the only Gamecock in double figures.
Gabe DeVoe scored 12 points and Shelton Mitchell added 10 for Clemson.
And at the end, the crowd at Littlejohn Coliseum started chanting "just like football," reminding South Carolina of Clemson's 34-10 win last month in that sport.
South Carolina: This was an ugly loss in an important game both emotionally and for recruiting for the Gamecocks. The theme in all three of South Carolina's losses has been poor shooting. They have shot at least 45 percent in each win and under 38 percent in each loss ... The 48 points were South Carolina's lowest in the Clemson rivalry since losing 58-39 to the then No. 8 Tigers in 1996.
Clemson: South Carolina's defense is designed to allow some open looks from 3, and Clemson took advantage, making 8 of 20 from behind the arc. Reed was 5 of 9 on 3-pointers ... The Tigers received the third highest number of votes for a team that didn't make in the AP Top 25 this week. Clemson has not been ranked since January 2010, the season before Brownell took over.
South Carolina was coming off 10 days off, and South Carolina coach Frank Martin insists his team improved during the break.
He said the Gamecocks defense was strong, but they weren't knocking down shots. South Carolina shot 35 percent Tuesday and made just 2 of 16 3-pointers.
Martin also suggested several times Clemson shooting 24 free throws to South Carolina's 10 — and none in the second half — made a big difference.
"You don't shoot free throws and you don't make 3s, how are you going to win?" Martin said.
It was a tough rivalry game. South Carolina was called for two flagrant fouls, although neither appeared to be too awful.
In the first half, Justin Minaya caught Reed with an elbow as Reed chased his man. In the second half, Silva grabbed Elijah Thomas' jersey after a steal to stop a fast break.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks host Division II Limestone on Dec. 27, then open up Southeastern Conference play Dec. 31 at Mississippi.
Clemson: The Tigers host Louisiana Lafayette on Friday afternoon, then host North Carolina State to open up Atlantic Conference play Dec. 30.