CLEMSON, S.C. -- K.J. McDaniels had a career high 21 points to go with 10 rebounds and six blocks as Clemson got a jump on the Palmetto State rivalry with a 71-57 victory over South Carolina on Sunday night.
McDaniels surpassed his career best in points for the second time in three games for the Tigers (3-0). He scored 20 points in the season-opening win over Stetson on Nov. 8 to top his previous best of 17. Jordan Roper added 15 points and Rod Hall 14 for Clemson, which defeated the Gamecocks (1-2) for the eighth time in the last 10 meetings.Mindaugas Kacinas had 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead South Carolina.Clemson fans at Littlejohn Coliseum hope there are more rivalry wins ahead the next two weeks. The school's women's teams play here on Wednesday night while the football teams square off on Nov. 30.Clemson finished 24 of 26 from the foul line, a remarkable 92.3 percent. Still, it was a shy of the team's all-time best of 22 of 23 set in a win over Duke in 1997.South Carolina had cut a 13-point lead to 40-39 with 13 minutes left on Michael Carrera's bucket. But McDaniels went on a personal run to restore the Tigers margin.McDaniels had a jam off a pass from Hall. Moments later he had a three-point play, then threw down another basket to give Clemson a 50-40 lead. The Gamecocks could not get back in it.Clemson and South Carolina both came into the season looking to bounce back from awful showings a year ago.The Tigers lost 10 of their final 11 games to finish 13-18 for their first losing season in nine years. The Gamecocks went just 14-18 in 2012-13 and gave Frank Martin his only losing season as a college head coach.The two rivals also have extremely young rosters. The only senior in the rotation for either team was South Carolina guard Brenton Williams, although Clemson's started veterans Rod Hall, K.J. McDaniels and Damarcus Harrison, while the Gamecocks opened with four newcomers in their starting five.That showed in the opening half as the Tigers experience gradually took control with a 17-5 run to build a 26-13 lead.Sophomores Adonis Filer and Jordan Roper had 3s and McDaniels a pair of put-back jams.Filer closed the surge with a short jumper.South Carolina didn't score for nearly seven minutes, going 0-of-5 from the field with two turnovers as Clemson moved in front.The Gamecocks found their touch down the stretch and cut the lead to 35-26 at the break on Kacinas' tip-in with less than a second left.