Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Surprising Clemson on top with best ACC start

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Clemson coach Brad Brownell’s had a landmark ACC start at exactly the right time.

The Tigers (14-3) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 6-0, the only undefeated team in league play. And it follows an underachieving 2021-22 season when athletic director Graham Neff put the program on notice that making the NCAA Tournament was a prime directive.

Message received: The Tigers are off to their best ACC mark since joining the league in 1953.

“Our kids have gotten better and their approach has been fantastic,” Brownell said. “There’s a belief in what we’re doing and we’re reaping that.”

Clemson faces its first ranked ACC team this season against No. 24 Duke.

Picked 11th in the ACC in the preseason, fifth-year forward Hunter Tyson has averaged a double-double with 16.2 points and 10.1 rebounds a game. The 6-foot-8 graduate student has gotten double-doubles in Clemson’s past five contests, including road wins at Virginia Tech and Pitt.

Clemson took a dip last season (17-16 and out of the postseason) when Tyson broke his collarbone in February and missed eight games.

Now, Tyson is healthy and confident in what he can accomplish.

“I do whatever it takes to help my team win,” Tyson said. “If that’s me really hitting the glass hard and getting a lot of rebounds, that’s what I’ll do. That’s happened a lot lately.”

Brownell is in his 13th season – only Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton and Virginia’s Tony Bennett have been in the ACC longer – with just three NCAA appearances, the last coming in 2021.

He readily acknowledges many think his Tigers should’ve won more than they have over the years. Yet, Brownell’s had four seasons of double-digit wins in ACC play after only three in Clemson’s first 57 league seasons.

Brownell is also the only Clemson coach with a win at North Carolina, breaking the Tigers’ embarrassing 0-59 mark at Chapel Hill in January 2020.

So Brownell won’t get ahead of himself with the Tigers hot start. “We’re not going to get too high or too low at this point,” he said.

The February schedule includes games against No. 16 Miami and No. 13 Virginia. And there’s a return to North Carolina, the expected ACC champion that’s had an up-and-down season so far.

Clemson point guard Chase Hunter won’t concede any let downs, the way his team is playing at the moment.

“We definitely had big goals, big dreams for the season,” he said.

Brownell has tapped the portal in the past to bolster his roster, but this year’s squad has only one transfer in the rotation in former College of Charleston and Boston College guard Brevin Galloway. The rest of the starters are experienced players who’ve stuck with the Tigers and developed their talent, such as Tyson, Hunter and forward PJ Hall.

Hall, a 6-10 junior, had surgery to repair a bone fracture in his left foot. As he recovered in July, Hall suffered a partial dislocation of a kneecap that also required an operation.

Yet, Hall has played in all but one of the games, averaging 12.4 points and leading the team with 16 blocks.

Brownell said there were plenty of days in the offseason when Hall wondered if it was all worth it. But Hall worked “because he wants to be with our team,” the coach said. “That’s why we have a good team, because of the character of our team.”

Win or lose to Duke, the season doesn’t stop, Brownell said. But he believes the team’s shared experience through the years can sustain them even during the grind of the ACC season.

“Our guys have been here,” he said. “We’re a rare group. We’re happy to watch kids get better and experience success.”

Clemson, Robinson surprise No. 7 Virginia Tech 64-59

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Amari Robinson caught the final inbounds pass, threw the ball high in the air and screamed as time ran out on Clemson’s biggest win in more than two decades.

Robinson had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Clemson beat No. 7 Virginia Tech 64-59 on Thursday night for its first victory against a top-10 opponent since 2000.

The Hokies (11-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) cut a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to 58-57 with 3:14 to go, but couldn’t overcome the Tigers (10-4, 1-1).

“I think I almost feel like I had two heart attacks,” Robinson, a senior, said. “This is the greatest team win, the greatest feeling.”

Especially when Clemson had struggled against the game’s best this season. It was blown out by No. 1 South Carolina 85-31 last month, and then lost 77-59 to No. 6 North Carolina State to start ACC play two weeks ago.

After losing to the Wolfpack, Robinson said the team’s motivation was playing a complete game the way they had much of the season.

“We just finished this out playing the way we know how to play,” she said.

It was Clemson’s first win against a top-10 school since a 72-61 victory against then-No. 9 Auburn on Dec. 21, 2000. The Tigers’ last such ACC win happened a few weeks earlier that same season, 93-75 over then-No. 3 Duke on Dec. 3.

Ruby Whitehorn scored 13 points for the Tigers, including three free throws in the final 20 seconds. Daisha Bradford had 12, and Hannah Hank finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Cayla King had 15 points and five 3-pointers in Virginia Tech’s second loss in three games. Georgia Amoore scored 14 points, and reigning ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley had 14 points and six rebounds.

Virginia Tech, once down 43-28, closed to 58-57 on D’asia Gregg’s 3-pointer with 3:14 to play.

Trailing 59-57, Tech had a chance to tie it up, but Kayana Traylor had the ball stolen by Bradford, who was fouled and made both free throws with 46 seconds to go.

Hokies coach Kenny Brooks said his players got stagnant when Clemson changed to zone defense after starting in man to man.

“We got to the point where it kind of snowballed. We had some good looks, we just didn’t knock them down,” he said. “Then our kids got kind of tight.”

The Tigers outrebounded Virginia Tech 21-16 the first 20 minutes. Kitley, who collected 27 boards the past two games, had none in the first 20 minutes.

Brooks said Kitley had to play more like the high-profile player she is. He thought she passed out of shots – Kitley took just seven shots – too often when the Hokies needed points.

“It was a myriad of things,” Brooks said. “We just didn’t play well at all.”

THE BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies have put themselves in a early hole in the ACC race with No. 13 North Carolina coming up next. Traylor, who had been averaging 13 points a game, was held to two points and missed all nine of her shots from the field.

Clemson: The Tigers had won six of seven coming in, led by the combo of Robinson and freshman Whitehorn. If Clemson continues playing like this, it’ll be a dangerous foe for the rest of the ACC.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Virginia Tech might not slide very much in the AP poll if it can beat the ranked Tar Heels on Sunday. If the Hokies lose again, it could be a long fall when the next rankings come out.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays No. 13 North Carolina at home on Sunday.

Clemson ends a three-game homestand against Wake Forest on Sunday.

No. 1 South Carolina wins 12th straight vs. Clemson 85-31

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Ashlyn Watkins stole the ball at half court and knew exactly what she’d do next, throwing down a right-handed dunk that brought her teammates on No. 1 South Carolina to their feet in celebration.

No big deal, said the 6-foot-3, five-star freshman. After all, Watkins did it all the time in high school.

“She told us to chill,” said Gamecocks senior Zia Cooke, who had 15 points to lead the team in an 85-31 win over rival Clemson on Thursday night.

Watkins one-armed jam with 3:26 to play was the capper to a dominant showing by the defending national champions.

It also stunned coach Dawn Staley, who thought Watkins was simply going to roll it over the rim and in as part of her career-best 14 points.

“That’s pretty impressive,” Staley said.

Her Gamecocks (3-0) were most impressive throughout. They used a 16-2 run in the first quarter to take control and used smothering defense and accurate shooting to win their 12th straight over the Tigers (3-1).

Watkins said to dunk in her third college game was “amazing.”

Cooke, among the players jumping off the bench, said her mind was blown by Watkins’ play.

“Do you even know what you did?” Cooke kept asking her.

Cooke came up slowly early in the game after getting hit by someone’s knee in her thigh. But after a few minutes with a muscle-loosening device on her left thigh, re-entered and continued her perfect half (she was 4 of 4) as she drained a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to end the first quarter.

Aliyah Boston added 12 points and six rebounds for the Gamecocks.

Amari Robinson led Clemson with nine points.

The Tigers had no answers for the Gamecocks, who shot 64% in the first 20 minutes while holding their opponent to 7 of 27 from the field to lead 46-16 at the break.

The highlight for Clemson came early – very early – when Brie Perpignan’s layup put the Tigers up 5-2 less than two minutes in. South Carolina then took off on its 16-2 run, making seven straight shots to take control.

Things will get a lot tougher for South Carolina next time out when it heads to No. 2 Stanford on Sunday in an early season showdown.

South Carolina, which relies more on smothering defense than accurate outside shooting, had both in this one. The Gamecocks shot 68% the first 20 minutes and made all five of their 3-pointers.

Even Victaria Saxton, the 6-foot-2 forward known for her inside game, joined in the shooting party with her first collegiate 3-pointer in three career attempts just before halftime for a 30-point lead.

Cooke, Boston, Bree Beal and Saxton, all starters on last year’s NCAA title winners, sat out the final quarter with the game well in hand.

Clemson had won its first three games, shooting nearly 48% from the field and averaging 71 points a game.

But the Tigers went cold and missed 16 of their 18 second-quarter attempts. Clemson finished with the fewest points in a game in coach Amanda Butler’s five seasons.

Butler said her team’s shot selection early on put them in a hole the Tigers couldn’t dig out from. “We played the game entirely on their terms,” she said.

THE BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have come out with a fire so far this season, winning all three games including an 81-56 victory at then-No. 11 Maryland last week, by an average winning margin of 54 points. They’ll need that again if they hope to get past Stanford, which lost to the Gamecocks 65-61 a season ago.

Clemson: The Tigers have lost all four games with rival South Carolina, (the teams didn’t play during the COVID-19 season of 2020-21), by an average margin of 33 points. Clemson will be up against it in the powerhouse ACC this season. The Tigers were picked 12th in the conference’s preseason poll.

TURNING IT OVER

Staley was not pleased with South Carolina’s 20 turnovers, including two apiece from starters in Beal, Boston and Cooke. Staley said Clemson used pressure that the Gamecocks had trouble handling.

UP NEXT

South Carolina: At Stanford on Sunday in a No. 1 vs. 2 matchup.

Clemson: Plays Kansas State on Thursday night at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Clemson, Brad Brownell hopes for rebound after missing NCAAs

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Brad Brownell looks around at ACC meetings and sees fewer and fewer faces who’ve been doing it as long as him.

Brownell is entering his 13th season with the Tigers – only Leonard Hamilton of Florida State and Tony Bennett of Virginia have held positions in the Atlantic Coast Conference longer – and hopes the season doesn’t become a game-by-game referendum on his job status.

“It’s challenging to stay in the profession at this level,” Brownell said. “I’m proud of it because I think it speaks to the culture of what we do in our program.”

Brownell touts players who stay out of trouble, graduate if they stay around and take well to coaching. He has taken the Tigers to just three NCAA Tournaments during his tenure.

“We’re probably more successful than people realize,” Brownell, whose team is seventh in ACC victories the past five seasons. “We’ve done a lot of things that are really pretty good.”

Last season was not among them. The Tigers had their ninth straight season of .500 or better at 17-16, but went just 8-12 in the ACC for their first losing league record in five years.

First-year athletic director Graham Neff wrote the fan base after last season, saying the NCAA tourney is the goal the Tigers must shoot for starting this year. Neff also pledged a football-like financial commitment on a regular basis.

Brownell said he’d heard Neff loud and clear and expects positive results to follow.

While winning a league or national title is a goal, forward Hunter Tyson doesn’t think the season will be a failure if they come up short. As long as the Tigers are playing their “best basketball at the end of the year, working hard every day, taking every opportunity we can to just be the best team we can be,” he said.

INJURED HALL

Clemson’s leading scorer, 6-foot-10 PJ Hall, went through surgeries on his foot right after the season, then his right kneecap during the summer. Brownell said he’s been able to shoot, but not run the floor yet with his teammates at fall practice. Hall, who averaged 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds last year, is a centerpiece for the Tigers, who won’t have as much talent or depth without him. Brownell hopes he can return to games sometime in November.

OH BROTHER

The roster includes two sets of brothers: Junior guard Chase Hunter and his freshman guard brother, Dillon, and the Nauseefs, senior guard Jack and sophomore forward Daniel.

Brownell joked that he’ll hear Chase Hunter correcting his younger brother in practice, thinking, “Wow, that’s great that Chase did listen because sometimes he wasn’t communicating himself.”

FRENCH TRIP

Clemson went overseas this summer with three exhibition games in France. The basketball helped bond the young team while the history was overwhelming, Brownell said, especially when the group visited Normandy, where the Allies landed as part of the D-Day invasion.

At the U.S. military cemetery nearby, the group saw the gravesites of six Clemson students killed during the operation. “I hope that’s one that sticks with them a long time,” Brownell said.

THAT’S THE POINT

There will be a change at point guard. Al-Amir Dawes, who started 41 of 55 games the past two years, transferred to Seton Hall. Brownell expected Chase Hunter and perhaps younger brother Dillon to see time as the lead guard this season. Dawes also was the top three-point and foul shooters among the starters at nearly 40%.

SCHEDULE

Clemson opens at home Nov. 7 against The Citadel and takes on state rival South Carolina four days later. The Tigers will take part in a Thanksgiving week tournament in Florida featuring Iowa, Cal and TCU. The ACC 20-game ACC season starts Dec. 21 at Georgia Tech.

Clemson’s top scorer PJ Hall to have right knee surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s top scorer PJ Hall will need right knee surgery and there’s no timetable yet for when he might return to the court, the school said Monday.

Hall is a 6-foot-10 rising junior who averaged 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds last season, and led Clemson with 38 blocks – nearly half of the team’s 77.

He had an MRI on Friday that revealed a subluxation of the patella, meaning his right kneecap had slid out of place.

Hall had surgery on one of his feet in the offseason to correct a problem that had lingered much of last year.

“It’s unfortunate, but you can’t change it,” Hall said in a statement. “Not every road is paved perfectly.”

Hall was expected to take another big step forward for the Tigers next season. Coach Brad Brownell said Hall will stay engaged throughout his latest rehab and help the team will his leadership.

“I know he will attack this latest obstacle with the same grit and determination that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him,” Brownell said.