Before the Tigers took the court against South Carolina, Brad Brownell made a prediction: "At the end of the day, there’s going to be a point in the game where it’s just going to be about getting it done."
For Clemson's Tigers, that moment came early in the second half, after the Gamecocks had scratched back from a 13-point first-half deficit and cut Clemson's lead to one, 40-39.
The momentum belonged to the Gamecocks, and that's where K.J. McDaniels' made his stand.
McDaniels scored seven of Clemson's next 10 points, igniting a 16-3 run that put the Tigers firmly in control.
He finished with a career-high 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks.
Both coaches Brownell and USC's Frank Martin agreed it was a big-time performance.
"Their guy, K.J. McDaniels, almost had a triple-double," Martin said. "That’s what good players do. He stepped up and played like a big-time player.”
"It’s time in his career to be a high-level player and he performed at a high level tonight," said Brownell.
“Our energy was on," McDaniels said. "We got the team together and we said, ‘We have to go now. We can’t wait.’ We only get to play them once a year. We’ve got to go our there and play as hard as we can and get this crowd going.”
Brownell said the best thing about McDaniels is not his improvement, but the fact that he's still getting better.
"He still has work to do and his game still has room to grow, which is exciting," Brownell said. "He’s a guy still learning to play off the dribble and pass in traffic. He always makes the highlight plays with the blocks and dunks and things of that nature, but his skill level has improved tremendously with his shooting, his ability to drive it and attack some close-outs.
"Those weren’t really things he came here with the ability to do. It’s been fun coaching him because of how hard he works, and its fun watching him because he’s only going to continue to develop and I’m excited about his growth.
“He just made plays. He attacked the basket, both with some things we set up and one play where he just went on his own and grabbed the ball and went to the basket and got fouled. It was certainly a high-level play.”