The (7) Florida State Seminoles (17-2, 5-1 ACC) start fast and cruise to a 86-27 win over the Clemson Tigers (11-7, 0-5 ACC) in the renovated Littlejohn Coliseum.
Clemson had an absolute nightmare season last year finishing with a 4-27 (0-16, ACC) record. Head coach Audra Smith realized that confidence may be a problem after all of those losses. Therefore she scheduled an extremely soft out of conference schedule. We have discussed this before and nothing has changed with respect to scheduling. A good coach will always try to give her team what it needs and that includes scheduling. Coaches will craft a schedule with their team's ability level in mind. That's why UConn's Gino Auriemma can schedule a non-conference filled with ranked teams and Coach Smith needed to schedule cupcakes.
Whatever the reason, the strategy worked. Clemson started the year 8-0. Again, that start was against cupcakes but 8-0 is still 8-0 especially when you only win four games the season before. In reality Clemson is an improved team. As this score today suggests, they are still miles away from being good or even competitive with top teams but they are moving in the right direction. Even though they are winless in the ACC right now they will probably win a game in the league this year. Sagarin rates them as better than both Pittsburgh and Boston College.
Clemson doesn't really do anything all that well. They rank 172nd nationally in offensive points per possession at .903 (this will plummet after today). They average .860 in defensive points per possession which is112th in the nation. FSU is 8th in DPPP (.758) and 5th in OPPP (1.095). The Tigers shoot .395 from the field and only .311 from three. They rebound at about the same rate as their opponents even with the soft schedule.
Junior guard 5'10 Nelly Perry (14.5pg) leads the team in scoring but she was out for this game. Sophomore guard 5'9 Aliyah Collier (10.7pg) and sophomore guard 5'7 Danielle Edwards (10.4pg) are the only other Tigers in double figures. Collier also chips in 7.4 boards a game. The other name to know is freshman forward 6'2 Kobi Thornton. Thornton was a top 100 recruit and even though her numbers aren't big yet (8.0pg, 5.4rg) she is the real deal. She would be a real problem if she had more talent around her.
As you probably figured out from the score, there isn't much to say here. FSU opened the game with a 14-0 run. Edwards (4pts, 5reb) stopped the bleeding (temporarily) with a layup. The Noles responded with a 14-2 run to end the quarter with a 28-4 lead. It was game over after that as the Noles cruised to the 86-27 victory.
This was obviously a hammer and nail game but it was also a "no blood no foul" game. I'm of the opinion that college basketball games tend to be over officiated. That definitely wasn't the case today. The refs really let them play in this one. They let a lot of the contact go uncalled. They called it the same both ways so it definitely didn't affect the outcome but it was really interesting to see a game that wasn't always being interrupted by whistles. The flow felt much better but I'd be interested to see how it would work in a more competitive game. There were definitely times when both coaches got a bit frustrated when they felt that a player got fouled with no call but neither coach really worked the refs all that much. However, that was probably due to the score.
On a day when no starter played more than 15 minutes, Ama Degbeon led the Noles with 13 points, six rebounds and four steals. Kai James had 12 points and seven rebounds while Maria Conde chipped in with 10 points.
The Seminoles welcome the Syracuse Orange to the TLCCC on Thursday, Jan 19th at 7pm. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra (ESPN 3). Sagarin currently has the Noles as 17 point favorites over the Orange.