With a little over 17 minutes remaining in the game, the ‘Noles found themselves down 18. Ten minutes later it was tied. It was that inspired stretch of hoops that may have saved FSU’s NCAA Tournament hopes, as they were able to scratch out an 81-79 win in overtime.
Needing another resume win, the ‘Noles couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. The players seemed tight under the pressure to win, and it led to missed shots and turnovers. Clemson, meanwhile, methodically ran clock, and were able to keep FSU at bay by draining nearly half their 3s.
At the break it was 41-29.
In the 2nd half, they quickly stretched the 12-point lead out to 18, and it seemed the rout was on.
Then Florida State — for one of the few times this season — conjured the Junkyard Dog out of the deflated air of the Tucker Center.
Over the next 10 minutes, FSU turned Clemson over eight times, and most were of the live-ball variety that allowed the Seminoles to get out and run.
After a Terance Mann drive and dish for a Phil Cofer dunk, the game was tied.
But here it seemed like FSU may have run out of gas. Clemson quickly built the lead back to seven, and with 90 seconds remaining, the lead was six.
The defense, however, came back to save the day. Braian Angola forced a steal and found Terance Mann in transition to cut the lead to four.
Then Mann made an incredible play stealing the inbounds pass, and a few seconds later Phil Cofer made a tough jumper.
In the final seconds, Clemson had a two-point lead and three fouls to give, but they inexplicably decided not to foul, and Trent Forrest hit an off-balance leaner on the drive and the game was tied.
In OT, Clemson stymied FSU’s offense and took a four-point lead. Then CJ Walker hit a three, and FSU got a stop. Forrest made a highlight-reel spinning layup and FSU forced a turnover.
In the final seconds, with Florida State clinging to a two-point lead, Mann inbounded long in order to avoid a 5-second call, but CJ Walker fouled a Clemson player as they fought for the ball.
Luckily, David Skara only made 1-of-2.
Forrest made both ends of a 1-and-1 on the other end, and up three, FSU fouled. Clemson made the first, missed the second, and in traffic Mann secured the game-sealing rebound.
The final was 81-79.
Cofer played an excellent game, and led FSU with 17 points. Forrest had several huge plays in big moments, and finished with 16. Mann had 13 points and eight boards. And Angola scored 10.
The Seminoles are now 18-8 (7-7), and host Pitt on Sunday night.