Both coming off the bench, Moore scored a career-high 19 points and Clemmons had 12 as the Gamecocks avenged a loss to the Chippewas 17 days earlier, 82-73, for their fourth straight win at home.
“Avery and TC bring another dimension to our team,” JSU coach James Green said. “I think they’re both energy guys who can make some baskets … and both did a really good job tonight.”
Clemmons didn’t play in the first game of the rare non-conference home-and-home series because he was five minutes late to the bus for practice the day before the game. In his chance for redemption, he took advantage of CMU’s uncertainty of him as a shooter to hit 4 of 6 from the field and grabbed four rebounds.
The junior forward was particularly effective midway through the second half when he scored six points in a 12-0 run that carried the Gamecocks (5-8) from a three-point deficit to a 53-44 lead.
“My coaches told me right before the game you didn’t play the first time for whatever reason so they don’t know what to expect from you,” Clemmons said. “You could be the ‘X’ factor because they don’t have too much film on you.
“When you make mistakes like that you’ve got to bounce back strong. That’s what (Green) demands.”
Avery didn’t even make the trip to Mt. Pleasant; he was still one game away from regaining his eligibility after satisfying the mid-year transfer rule.
On this night he nearly matched his total point output of his previous three games (21). He was 6 of 8 from the floor, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range, and his one steal was quite important to the game at the time.
“I wouldn’t say I was the ‘X’ factor and I don’t think TC is the ‘X’ factor, I just think we played as a whole — we played defense as a whole,” Moore said. “We had a focus today. When we went to Dartmouth (in Saturday’s 76-46 loss), we didn’t have a focus, but we came back, listened to what coach had to stay, bought the game plan and we had a focus. We really wanted it. We really wanted to win.”
Moore was particularly handy in an exchange in the final minute of the first half that lifted the Gamecocks to a 33-27 halftime lead. He scored their final four points of the half, hitting a jumper, stealing the inbounds pass and converting the layup.
“That particular play probably gave us energy to play more defense,” he said.
The Gamecocks lost the first meeting between the teams by five. The difference was their overall intensity for 40 minutes.
They did a better job against the Chippewas’ press and showed more patience on the offensive end. They had a 20-7 assist-to-turnover ratio in the game; playing slower produced more points.
“We didn’t play anywhere near our potential (the first game),” Clemmons said. “That was a big night for our team. We all had a big conversation and just decided what thing we were going to do best. That thing we said we were going to do best is what all coach Green’s teams do — play defense.”
Undra Mitchem and Darion Rackley led the starters with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Nick Cook had eight points, six boards and four blocked shots, and his presence around the basket helped the Gamecocks both inside and outside. Jamal Hunter, Cook’s post partner, scored four points, but had eight points and four assists.
Senior guard Brian Williams had only three points, but tied his career high with nine assists. The 1,000-point scorer didn’t get his first points until inside the final minute. He went scoreless in the Dartmouth game and his demonstrative dunk that ended the drought was his first basket since the 15:53 mark of the second half against Alcorn State (Dec. 11).
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.