No. 17 Florida State (8-2) defeated Clemson (5-4) 72-53 in the Seminoles’ ACC home opener.
Trent Forrest got the ‘Noles off to a quick start with a strip and score on the Tigers’ first possession, but Clemson responded. The Tigers made five of their first seven shots and their first three shots from behind the arch. FSU also turned the ball over three times within the first four minutes as Clemson held a 12-6 lead at the first media timeout of the game.
Clemson’s freshman PG Al-Amir Dawes came into the game averaging 9.4 points, but put up ten points just six minutes into the game. The ‘Noles struggled shooting from the floor but six offensive boards and seven Clemson turnovers kept them in the game early as they trailed by three at the U-8 media timeout.
FSU has seen a multitude of scoreless droughts in recent games and that trend continued in the first half. The Seminoles went without a point for nearly five minutes after the nine minute mark as Clemson pushed their lead to seven late in the half.
An emphatic dunk by Devin Vassell and a three-pointer from MJ Walker cut the Tigers’ lead to just three but a buzzer-beating three from Aamir Simms gave Clemson a 33-27 lead at half.
Now would be a great time to remind you that Devin Vassell is very good at basketball. pic.twitter.com/bkYgvUwKSN— Ryan Kelly (@RyanLKelly) December 8, 2019
The difference in the first half was three pointers as Clemson was 6/13 and the Seminoles were 4/14, a porous 29% from deep. Vassell led the way with nine points and three boards while the bench combined for just three points in the half.
Some guy named Mike Norvell dropped by at half, guess he’s kind of a big deal or something?
Mike Norvell already has the tomahawk chop down pic.twitter.com/YaUHQAD4CK— ACC Network (@accnetwork) December 8, 2019
FSU was a completely different team from deep in the second half. Florida State quickly tied the game out of the half with back-to-back three’s from Pat Williams and MJ Walker. The Seminoles went into the first media timeout of the half up one after scoring the first ten points of the half. Two three’s from Anthony Polite and Vassell combined with the Seminoles forcing five quick Tiger turnovers gave FSU a nine-point lead with 12:21 remaining in the game.
Polite came into Sunday’s game shooting just 30.8% from deep, but he carried the Seminoles in the second half, making his first four three pointers. 12 points and four three-pointers were both career high’s for the redshirt sophomore. His fourth three put the ‘Noles up 14 with 7:51 remaining.
FSU continued to create havoc on defense and play efficiently on offense as the Tigers couldn’t cut the lead back to single digits the rest of the game. The ‘Noles went on to pick up their first ACC win by a score of 72-53.
FSU has now beat the Tigers five straight years in the Tucker Center. FSU came out of the half looking like a completely different team, playing suffocating defense and raining shots from deep. FSU shot 60% from the field and were 11/18 on three’s in the second half while the defense forced nine Clemson turnovers. In total, FSU outscored Clemson 45-20 in the half. Clemson is one of the worst ACC teams FSU will play this season, but they did what they were supposed to do and then some.