COLUMBIA -- In the undisputed greatest year in South Carolina athletics history, Darrin Horn and his basketball team will try to continue USC's success today against Clemson. Though the rivalry game is a considerable undercard to Saturday's SEC title game, Horn has urged fans to show up for today's 4 p.m. meeting despite its subordinate status this weekend.
For those who do turn out to Colonial Life Arena today, or tune in on television (Fox Sport Carolinas), what they'll see is a South Carolina team playing better than many anticipated, beating early expectations, which has been a trend in Columbia this year. South Carolina (5-1) has just one loss, a nine-point defeat at No. 6 Michigan State.
The Gamecocks have a young crafty point guard in Bruce Ellington, a former Berkeley High standout, and a solid post player in Sam Muldrow.
"I'm really impressed with their team in the games I've seen so far; they are extremely athletic," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "I love their point guard Ellington. He plays with great poise … he plays the game at the speeds you need to to be successful. … Muldrow is the big post player you need. I think their team is a lot better than people thought going into the season.
"I think they are going to have some good days."
Clemson (5-2) hopes better days are ahead after a home loss to underdog Michigan on Tuesday.
Clemson is short on depth, down to nine scholarship players following the departure of Noel Johnson, who announced this week he will transfer.
While Horn considers Clemson's frontline of Jerai Grant, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings a challenge to contend with, the Tigers backcourt has become extremely thin, having lost two guards (Johnson and Donte Hill) to transfers this year.
"Everyone is going to play because there are not enough guys not to," Brownell said. "We only have four true perimeter players in the program. … Bryan (Narcisse) will get more time. … I think Bobo (Baciu) is going to play more than he has the last couple games."
While short on depth, Clemson was also short on confidence against the Wolverines, with Brownell saying the team played with too much "self-doubt" and that the staff has had to do too much in-game motivating this season.
Check out the Clemson blog at postandcourier.com/blogs/tiger_tracks and follow Travis Sawchik on Twitter (@travis_sawchik).