South Carolina (8-2) at Clemson (9-1)
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson
KenPom prediction: Clemson 73, South Carolina 66
Radio: 107.5 The Game
Series: South Carolina leads, 90-77
Last meeting: Dec. 21, 2016 – Clemson won 62-60 in Columbia
Coach: Frank Martin (221-130 in 10 seasons overall; sixth season at USC — 104-76). Martin is 2-3 against Clemson.
Projected starters: G Hassani Gravett (9.1 ppg); G Frank Booker (11.4); F Justin Minaya (10.8); F Chris Silva (13.7); F Maik Kotsar (9.8)
Last game: Beat Coastal Carolina 80-78 on Dec. 9 at home
Notes: This is USC’s worst record entering the Clemson game since the 2014-15 season when the Gamecocks were 5-3. Carolina came in at 9-0 in 2015-16 and 9-1 last season. ... USC is 13th in the SEC – and 303rd nationally – in free-throw percentage (65.4). … Kotsar hasn’t made a free throw since Nov. 17 against UTEP. He’s missed his past 10 attempts.
Coach: Brad Brownell (300-189 in 16 seasons overall; eighth season at Clemson – 133-103). Brownell is 3-4 against South Carolina.
Projected starters: G Marcquise Reed (14.6);, G Shelton Mitchell (12.6);, G Gabe DeVoe (11.7);, F Donte Grantham (15.5);, C Elijah Thomas (11.3)
Last game: Beat then No. 22 Florida 71-69 in Sunrise, Florida
Notes: Clemson finished three spots outside the the AP Top 25 this week. It last faced South Carolina as a ranked team Dec. 6, 2009. The then-No. 18 Tigers beat the Gamecocks, 72-61. … Clemson is shooting 59 percent on 2-point attempts this season. That’s ninth-best in the nation. Clemson is third in the ACC in overall field-goal percentage (50.2). … The Tigers are top 50 nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive (No. 42) and defensive rankings (29). Their only loss came to Temple on Nov. 19 in Charleston.
1. EXPERIENCE MATTERS
Clemson has back 66 percent of its scoring from last year’s win in Columbia. The Gamecocks, meanwhile, have just three players – Gravett, Kotsar and Silva – who have touched the floor in this rivalry.
The Tigers boast a starting lineup of two seniors, two fourth-year juniors and a traditional junior.
“The amount of experience those kids have is ridiculous,” Martin said.
2. SILVA VS. GRANTHAM
The power forward battle in this game is a matchup of each team’s most productive player. The 6-foot-9, 223-pound Silva leads the Gamecocks in points and rebounds. The 6-8, 215-pound Grantham leads the Tigers in points and is second in rebounds and field-goal percentage.
Can Silva stay out of foul trouble? Can Silva, who leads the country in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, get Grantham in foul trouble?
3. HIGH STAKES
Martin spoke late last week about this rivalry not getting its proper spotlight when it comes to basketball.
“Does anyone ever give Clemson credit because they play South Carolina?” he asked. “Does anyone ever give South Carolina credit because they play Clemson? When people speak about our nonconference schedule, no one’s ever said, ‘They got to go to an ACC school.’ ”
In this particular instance, credit is deserved. The Gamecocks are traveling to play at Clemson, which enters coming off a win against Florida and with an RPI of 31.
USC has an RPI of 40.