Florida State wasn't just facing an ACC opponent they'd already lost to, but they were also going against a fellow NCAA tournament bubble team, and the winner of this game would have the upper hand.
The first time these two met, Florida State dug themselves into an early 12-2 hole, and then were never able to climb out of it thanks for Jordan Roper having a career game from the 3-pt line. So it couldn't have felt good for the Seminoles to see Roper knock down a 3-pointer just over a minute into the game.
But Florida State stayed focused and were able to stay away from another slow start, and they took the first half lead for good when Dwayne Bacon took it coast to coast, putting FSU up 13-12.
FSU was playing inspired defense, and even with Clemson having another good shooting half, the Noles were able to keep the lead. Florida State was pressuring the ball 30' from the basket, and the easy passes were taken away. To get anything going, Clemson had to beat someone off the dribble or skip it over the defense.
Dwayne Bacon scored 15 first half points, and the Noles led 32-28.
But in the 2nd half, Clemson turned it around.
Clemson changed the way they were running their 2-3 zone, and began trapping more quickly in the short corner. This led to several FSU turnovers, and the Tigers were able to do enough on offense to take a 41-39 lead with 13:51 to go.
With their NCAA tournament hopes seriously threatened, the Noles responded with perhaps their most important run of the year. Over the next eight minutes, six different Seminoles scored, and the Noles reeled off a 21-7 run.
A couple of minutes later, Clemson had to start fouling.
The game took forever down the stretch as both teams were shooting free throws on almost every possession, but FSU made enough that the Tigers were never able to threaten.
FSU won 76-65.
Dwayne Bacon led FSU with 21 points and six rebounds. Malik Beasley had 16, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 10. Devon Bookert played a fantastic game on both ends of the floor, finishing with nine points, five assists, five rebounds, and three steals. Montay Brandon had six rebounds, and Boris Bojanovsky and Chris Koumadje combined to block six shots.
The Noles - who entered the game as a 10-seed at CBS and a 12-seed at Bracket Matrix - improve to 14-7 (4-5). They now have a quick turnaround as they host NCSU on Monday night at the Tuck.