Gamecocks, Tigers take rivalry talk to the hardwood

The two schools’ football coaches, Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier, are the ones who have been talking trash in this rivalry this week, but it’s the basketball teams that will settle it Sunday.

South Carolina earned gridiron bragging rights in the Palmetto State rivalry last weekend, but Clemson can mitigate some of the damage by beating its in-state rival when the Gamecocks travel to Littlejohn Coliseum for a non-conference hardwood matchup.

South Carolina leads the all-time series 87-74 and won last year’s game 64-60 in Columbia, snapping the Tigers six-game winning streak against the Gamecocks. Clemson is 44-5 in non-conference home games since 2006 but has dropped two of its past three.

The Gamecocks (2-5) have lost three straight and five of six after a 76-67 home loss to Providence on Thursday in the Big East/SEC Challenge. Malik Cooke scored a season-high 21 points against Providence and leads the team with 12.9 points per game.

Point guard Bruce Ellington, last year’s leading scorer, returned to the team for the first time this season against Providence after finishing his football regular season and scored six points on 3-of-11 shooting.

South Carolina is playing only its second true road game of the season — the first was a 58-53 loss at Elon on Nov. 15. The Gamecocks have lost six straight road games since a 64-56 win at LSU on Feb. 2, 2011.

The Tigers (4-2) shot the lights out in a 71-55 win at Iowa on Tuesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Clemson was 11 of 21 from 3-point range and shot 51.9 percent from the field, led by senior guard Andre Young’s 19 points.

Young leads the Tigers with 15.2 points per game. Young has made at least one 3-pointer in 40 of his past 41 games, including five against Iowa, which matched a career high. His 187 career 3-pointers are the most among active players in the ACC.

Clemson’s two losses have come by a combined four points to in-state rivals Charleston and Coastal Carolina. Clemson has held five of its six opponents to 60 points or less and ranks second in the ACC in scoring defense (55 ppg).

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET; ESPNU, ESPN3.com

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