There is no real way to sugarcoat it. Clemson (4-12, 0-3 ACC) is easily the worst team in the ACC. One of their losses was to Florida A&M at Clemson. They have a talent deficit against virtually all of the teams in the ACC. The Tigers only have one top 100 player (Danielle Edwards) while FSU has four which doesn't include all-ACC performers Adut Bulgak and Leticia Romero because they didn't go to high school in the United States. If Florida State even let this game stay close it would raise serious questions about the direction of the team. Fortunately for Noles fans these questions don't need to be asked tonight because FSU cruised to an easy 85-40 victory.
The Seminoles (13-4, 3-1 ACC) started out strong. Midway through the first quarter they had an 13-4 lead and all five starters had scored. From there FSU built the lead to 25-13 at the end of the first quarter and the outcome was never really in doubt from that point on.
Clemson is a poor defensive team so the Noles didn't face much pressure but it was still nice to see FSU keep the number of turnovers relatively down as they only had 16 for the game. Florida State also was able to force Clemson into 27 turnovers.
Defense has been a major point of emphasis for the Noles lately and they did show improvement tonight. FSU switched liberally between man and zone defense tonight as the coaches were clearly using the opportunity to work on different defenses. They were able to hold the Tigers to 37.8% shooting for the game. However, it is really tough to judge FSU's progress in this area because Clemson simply lacks the firepower to challenge the Noles. Clemson has basically zero outside shooting threats (0-3 from 3 point range) and their entire offense consisted of dribble drives, transition baskets and a sprinkling of free throws. Clemson guard Nelly Perry (14pts, 5rebs) was able to spllit FSU's guards and penetrate to the basket at times but she didn't have nearly enough help to really threaten FSU.
Ivey Slaughter (18pts, 4rebs) and Adut Bulgak (18pts, 9rebs) led FSU down low. Ama Degbeon and Kai James also came in off the bench and played good minutes. Degbeon had some nice moments and displayed some aggressive offensive moves. If this game serves as a confidence builder for her FSU could really benefit the rest of the season.
The only sour note of the night for Florida State was the absence of wing Shakayla Thomas from the lineup. Coming off of Thomas' huge game against Georgia Tech where she had career highs in points and rebounds she was kept on the bench in her warmups tonight because of a "coach's decision". FSU does not like to comment on suspensions and in this case they won't even call the absence of Thomas a suspension merely labeling it a coach's decision. The reason given is an off court transgression. It is unclear whether Thomas will play against Pitt on Sunday.
The bottom line in this game is that FSU faced an inferior team and treated them as such. The Seminoles have won three games in a row and could be just hitting their stride.
Florida State travels to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers on Sunday January 17 at 2pm (ESPN 3).