Call it the Chico Carter Jr. game.
After South Carolina let a nine-point lead slip against instate rivals Clemson when the Tigers tied the game on a pair of free throws inside the final 10 seconds, Carter took matters into his own hands.
He took the ball up the court on South Carolina's final possession after head coach Lamont Paris elected not to call a timeout, and knocked down a tough fadeawy shot from the left midrange to give South Carolina a thrilling 60-58 victory at Colonial Life Arena.
Carter led the Gamecocks (2-0) in scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and he also went 4-of-6 from 3-point range with three assists and two steals.
But before Carter's epic buzzer-beater, the Gamecocks had to survive a battle.
It started with defense for South Carolina, an area of concern coming out of the 80-77 win over South Carolina State on Tuesday. After struggling to contain the perimeter against the Bulldogs, 3-point shooting was not nearly as much of a weapon for the Tigers. Clemson only made seven 3-pointers all night, and turned the ball over 13 times against an active South Carolina defense.
Carter was the start at the other end, but a supporting cast also chipped in to get the home team over the finish line. GG Jackson and Jacobi Wright both reached double-figures with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Clemson jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the early minutes, but the Gamecocks established a foothold in the game and grew further into it as the half went on. South Carolina went on a 12-3 run to take its first lead of the game at 20-17, punctuated by a Jackson 3-pointer. The next few minutes were a back-and-forth affair that led to the score standing at 24-24, but South Carolina hit back with another run.
This time it was an 11-2 run to close the first half. Clemson only hit one shot from the field in the final five minutes of the first half, and South Carolina took advantage to extend its lead to nine points at the half on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Carter.
Once the second half started, it was a case of Paris' team trying to hold off continued Clemson surges. PJ Hall led all Tigers in scoring with 15 points, and he fought to get his team back in the game throughout the second half.
Clemson trailed 58-51 with three minutes to go, but South Carolina went cold from the field. The scoring drought lasted almost the entire rest of the game, and just long enough for the Tigers. Clemson scored the next seven points to tie the game, the last of which came in excruciating circumstances. After Tyson Hunter missed a 3-pointer from the wing, South Carolina issued a foul while attempting to clear the rebuond and put Brevin Galloway on the free throw line. Galloway knocked down both free throws, appearing to send the game to overtime.
But up stepped Carter, who provided the first iconic moment of the Paris era.