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Թϱ, Clemson head into 2023-24 home stretch tied in Palmetto Series

<p>FILE - The Cockpit student section begins to lose hope as Clemson locks down the Gamecocks’ defense on Nov. 26, 2023. The Gamecocks hoped to win back-to-back Palmetto Bowls but fell 16-7 in the rivalry match-up.</p>
FILE - The Cockpit student section begins to lose hope as Clemson locks down the Gamecocks’ defense on Nov. 26, 2023. The Gamecocks hoped to win back-to-back Palmetto Bowls but fell 16-7 in the rivalry match-up.

Թϱ Athletics is tied in its overall matchups against Clemson for this year's in-state rivalry, putting it in jeopardy of losing some hardware and bragging rights. 

The Թϱ Education Lottery established the Palmetto Series in 2015, a competition that encompasses the two schools' matchups across all NCAA Division I sports.

The Gamecocks have yet to lose the Palmetto Series since its inception, boasting a 5-0 overall record heading into the 2023-24 season

Թϱ or Clemson earns a point for a victory in each head-to-head contest. An additional three points are obtainable for the school with the most LIFE scholarship recipients, the most Palmetto Fellows scholarship recipients or the most entries in the Rival Play Second-Chance Promotion.

So far this year, Թϱ and Clemson are tied 4-4 with only a few matchups remaining in the series, putting the Gamecocks at risk of losing the competition for the first time. 

Թϱ picked up the first of its 4 points on Aug. 30, when the volleyball team defeated Clemson 3-1. The victory marked the Gamecocks' 11th consecutive home win over the Tigers — a streak that began in 1994. Serves helped propel the Gamecocks forward in the game, as it amassed 13 aces compared to Clemson's one.

The No. 1 women's basketball team earned a win over Clemson on Nov. 16 by a score of 109-40. Head women's basketball coach Dawn Staley said, despite the team's recent success against the Tigers, the Gamecocks should not overlook its rival's ability to play well in big games.

"It's a rivalry, you want the palmetto point," Staley said. "We know they're going to play up. They always have a tendency to play up. I just hope we are the team we've been the last couple of months, and if we're that team, hopefully it's good enough to get a win over our rival team."

The guards helped play a significant role in the win, with sophomore guard Raven Johnson tallying 17 assists — just one shy from the program record. Freshman guard MiLaysia Fulwiley and senior guard Te-Hina Paopao also had big performances in their first matchup against Clemson. Fulwiley led the team in scoring with 18 points, and Paopao hit four 3-pointers and to finish with 14. 

The Թϱ men and women’s tennis teams rounded out the Gamecocks' victories in the spring. The men’s tennis team defeated the Tigers for the ninth straight time by a score of 4-2 on Jan. 27. The women’s tennis team avenged its loss to the Tigers last year with a 6-1 win on Feb. 14.

But Թϱ has also suffered several defeats at the hands of its in-state rivals. 

The men's soccer team lost the Gamecocks' first point of the Palmetto Series on Sept. 1 with a 2-0 defeat to the Tigers. Թϱ had just one shot on goal compared to Clemson's five. 

The Թϱ football team also failed to pick up a win in the Palmetto Series, as it lost to Clemson 16-7 on Nov. 25. The Gamecocks snapped its seven-game losing streak to the Tigers after winning 31-30 in 2022, but it couldn't replicate the victory this year.

"It's emotional for both teams, but to me, on Saturday, the team that wins is not going to be the team that dislikes the other team more, it's going to be the team that plays the best," head football coach Shane Beamer said. "Really focus on doing your job and doing it at a high level, and you know it's an emotional game, but you can't get out there and lose your mind."

Senior quarterback Spencer Rattler recorded 112 passing yards, one interception and zero touchdowns on 16-32 (50%) passing in his final game with the Gamecocks. With the loss, Թϱ finished the season 5-7 and failed to reach bowl eligibility for the first time in Beamer's head coaching tenure.

The Gamecocks and the Tigers met again on Dec. 6, 2023, when Թϱ's men’s basketball fell to Clemson 72-67. Head men's basketball coach Lamont Paris said the team was dominant throughout the game despite the loss.

“(I) thought we did a good job. We controlled a lot of the game, and I think that was fact. We couldn’t make some plays. They got real aggressive offensively in the second half attacking the basket,” Paris said. “And then, it down to — towards the end — to the nitty gritty, and we didn’t make any plays.” 

Junior guard Meechie Johnson led the team with 26 points and five rebounds. Թϱ's production dropped outside of Johnson, as graduate student forwards BJ Mack and Stephen Clark amassed 10 points each and were the only other Gamecocks to score in double figures.

The Թϱ baseball team also suffered a critical loss to Clemson. The first game of the weekend series was scheduled to take place at Founders Park on March 1, but it was canceled due to weather and is not planned to be rescheduled this season. Թϱ lost the following two games, both by a score of 5-4. 

Head baseball coach Mark Kingston said the rivalry is important for both teams, regardless of the result.

“I love it like most people in the state love it … and you're going to see two highly-rated teams with storied traditions. You're going to see some of the best players of the country compete in three venues, in three cities,” Kingston said. “It's just everything you want. It’s high competition. It’s big fan bases. It's a rivalry.”

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The Gamecocks and the Tigers tied in three contests this season, which did not reward points to either school.

Women's cross country tied Clemson when it split wins in the Eye Opener on Sept. 1 and the NCAA Southeast Regional on Nov. 10. The women’s soccer team drew Clemson 0-0 on Aug. 17, and the softball team split its series against the Tigers with a 6-4 road win on March 20 and a 7-0 home loss on April 9. 

The only remaining athletic events that have not rewarded points are men's and women's golf. Unlike other sports where the two go head to head, points will be awarded based on how the teams score overall during the tournament. 


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