"That's what good players do," said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. "He stepped up and played well."
McDaniels shot well, too. He went 7 of 12 from the floor and made all six of his shots from the free-throw line.
"Our seniors last year helped us out a lot, taught me a lot. So I feel like, coming into this year, I have to have a good mindset and show my teammates that I'm there for them," he said. "I trust my teammates a lot more. I feel like everything we've been through this summer, going to Italy, I felt like that helped out a lot. There's just a lot of trust and confidence in each other."
Brad Brownell has plenty of trust in his star player.
"K.J. was terrific, the best player on the floor," Brownell said. "He was probably the difference in the game."
Rod Hall, who scored 14 points and dished out four assists, was impressed.
"He played like a man today. He was getting boards, knocking shots, played real tough today for us," Hall said.
24 of 26 at the line"Clemson has a history of terrible foul shooting, and I've been reminded of that. My first year here we shot great and everybody thought I was this great coach and could teach great foul shooting. The last two years we stunk and I'm back to being a bad coach. There's not a lot more you do about it. It's really up to your guys. We shoot free-throws everyday. We shot free-throws everyday last year. I have tried to make more games out of it. We have challenged them with different things, but it's not like we're shooting 1,000 extra free-throws a week or anything like that."- Brownell
"I think some of the guys that are good free-throw shooters got up there and made them. We have tweaked some shots with some guys, to try to help them. But, it's funny. In the middle of the game, one of the referees said, ‘If you shot free-throws like this last year, you would have won five or six more games.' I laughed and said, ‘You're right.' It's the difference between winning and losing. It's the difference between looking like you know what you're doing and not knowing what you're doing. It really is a pretty significant thing." - Brownell
McDaniels' play after the lead was cut to one"Our energy was on. 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." - McDaniels
"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"- Brownell
"I felt like I had to be much more aggressive. I felt like I had to go out there and fight through some contact, go make plays." - McDaniels
On the defensive end"We came out with a great mentality today. Defensively, we rebounded much better. I think our motor was the most important and we did pretty good." - McDaniels
"We wanted to just contain the penetration, just stop the ball and rebound, can't really give away our game plan. Defensively, I think we did a good job tonight." - Jordan Roper
Limiting USC's second-chance points"They are a physically oriented team in every way they play. They pound you with posting and their guys post hard every possession. They send four to the glass. You know going in with them that it's going to be physical." - Brownell
"I feel like our defense at the rim was preventing them from making their second shots. We had to get the first ones, but it's going to happen. We just have to stand strong." - McDaniels