What if? It's easy as a sports fan to put on the retroscope and look at any game and ask 'what if?' Unfortunately for the Seminoles, this will be a game that not only receives a lot of 'what ifs' tonight and tomorrow but also from here until the end of their season. This was a missed opportunity for the Seminoles to take sole possession of third place in the conference and put themselves in a good position to be guaranteed a bye in the ACC tournament. Now, they have work to do.
Clemson did not score for the first seven minutes of the game. That should have been game, set, match with Florida State cruising to victory. If that wasn't enough, the Tigers had another four minute scoring drought in the first half. Game over, right? The Seminoles only had a 19-6 lead with just over four minutes to go in the first half. One would think that would have been the time to put the game out of reach. Instead, Clemson went on a 13-2 run to finish the first half only down by two points.
Clemson started the second half with an 8-0 run. They out scored the Seminoles 21-2 over a seven minute thirty eight second stretch that bridged halftime. Florida State worked its way back into the game only to see Clemson move ahead again. This occurred twice before Florida State appeared to take control of the game with about ten minutes to go. In a game that really felt that the first one to 50 would win, the Seminoles opened up a six point lead. One would think that in a game that neither team could score, that would be enough to get the job done.
It wasn't. With 2:35 to go, Tanner Smith hit a three point shot from the corner. Smith was shooting 28.4% from deep on the season. From that point forward, Seminoles fans had a sinking feeling in their stomach and a sense of deja vu: missed free throws and turnovers. Chris Singleton missed two free throws with 1:24 to go. Solomon Alabi went 1-2 from the line with fourteen seconds to go. Michael Snaer had a turnover on an inbound pass that led to an Andre Young three pointer on the next possession. It was one thing after another.
All of that led to the Seminoles having the ball with seven seconds to go and down by three points. Dulkys ended up with the ball in the corner in front of the Seminoles bench. Trevor Booker recognized the play and left the post to defend Dulkys. It resulted in a block. There was not shot fake. Dulkys went right up with the shot only to see Booker come down with it. Six seconds were left on the clock. Booker gets fouled, makes two free throws. Game over.
It was a terrible game for both teams. Florida State had an eFG% of 38%. Clemson had an eFG% of 33%. Clemson had an offensive efficiency of 80. Florida State had an offensive efficiency of 79.9. The big difference in the game was the free throw shooting and turnovers. Florida State shot 58% from the strip compared to 78.9% for the Tigers. And to cap it all off, Florida State turned the ball over on 31.9% of their possessions.
It's time to move on. Wake Forest rolls into the Tucker Center on Wednesday night. In order for Florida State to go 10-6 in conference play, they must win that game. Florida State can still finish in third place in the conference, but they will need some help. At this point, aiming for a first round bye is reasonable, but they need to win both of the remaining games.