If you buy tickets to sporting events so that you can watch your favorite refs, then this was your game. The first half featured 24 fouls and 30 free throws. The 2nd half went one bigger, with 25 fouls and another 30 free throws. Michael Ojo picked up his 4th foul with 18 minutes left in the game. Terance Mann, who would foul out, picked up his 4th with over 12 minutes.
Between it all, the teams managed to play a bit of basketball, and despite Clemson having two shots at the end to win or tie it, the ‘Noles were able to walk away with a 76-74 win.
FSU advances to 23-6 (11-5), and the win officially knocked Clemson off the NCAA tournament bubble.
The first few moments of the game looked exactly like the Clemson - Florida State game from three weeks ago in Tallahassee. The Tigers couldn’t handle FSU’s ball pressure, and FSU was knocking down shots. But then the whistles began coming hot and heavy and there was zero rhythm to the rest of the half. At one point Clemson scored 13 straight points from the line.
At the break, Florida State led by one.
The 2nd half was more of the same. Lots of whistles. No rhythm. The difference maker was that when they were allowed to play, the back court pressure put on by Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Trent Forrest was too much for Clemson’s ball handlers. Their entire offense degraded into nothing but isolations for Jaron Blossomgame, and the All ACC player scored 24 for the game.
Clemon had two possessions at the end of the game to win or tie. On the first, they could have run it down for the final shot with Blossomgame, but instead Shelton Mitchell earned his coaches ire by throwing up a wild shot on a drive. It was nowhere close, and Trent Forrest came out of the scrum with the ball.
FSU was up 1 with nine seconds left.
As Forrest stepped to the line and began his routine, the Clemson clock operator started the clock, and so Forrest had to step away while they reset. He missed the first and made the second.
On the final possession, Clemson again ignored their best player and Marquise Reed’s shot was nowhere close.
XRM led FSU with 15 points and seven assists. Jonathan Isaac had 14 points, and Dwayne Bacon had 12. The Seminoles made 23-28 FTs (82%).
FSU now has two remaining games, with a trip to Duke on Tuesday, and a home finale vs Miami next Saturday.