The Florida State Seminoles were back at the Tucker Center for their second and final ACC matchup of the week. They welcomed the No. 1 team in the ACC, Clemson Tigers. The Tigers went into the game winning nine of their last 10, while Florida State was looking for any sign of life after their loss to Miami. In spite of a hard-fought battle from the Seminoles, they were slightly outperformed, leading to an 82-81 loss.
Player of the game: Despite having just four points and two rebounds in six minutes of opportunity, Sola Adebisi was the most vital piece to making a competitive game. The Noles may have added another loss to their record, but the walk-on deserves his flowers for giving FSU an energy boost.
The Seminoles started the game with Jalen Warley, Darin Green Jr., Caleb Mills, Matthew Cleveland, and Cameron Corhen. Backup center Naheem McLeod was not dressed for the contest.
FSU gave up a three-point basket to kick off the game, highlighting their routine weakness of defending beyond the arc. Not only were the Noles down 11-0 at the first timeout, but they left the Tigers' top shooter, Hunter Tyson with enough room to start 3-3 from distance.
Four minutes into the first half, Florida State was still searching for their first bucket. They attempted to bring in Baba Miller to spark up the offense, but it seems like nerves and communication led to a rough start for Miller who air-balled his first attempt and got a turnover on the very next play.
Green cracked the code for the Seminoles, hitting the first shot of the game at the 15:30 mark. Clemson came back with a three of their own, keeping their hot streak of 80% from the field and 4-5 from three. With less than 13 minutes left in the first half, Florida State had just two points on the board.
After back-to-back threes from Green and Mills, the crowd finally woke up. With 11:43 remaining in the half, FSU was down 16-8. The Tigers came right off the break with a couple of baskets to extend the lead, starting the game 5-8 from distance. It looked like the Noles were rolling right back down the hill, but Green and Miller connected on three-point shots to get FSU within three. Clemson led 21-18 with 8:40 left in the half.
Florida State rode a scoring drought of over two minutes, but Cleveland made his presence felt with an and-one to cut the lead 28-21. Head coach Leonard Hamilton plugged in walk-on Sola Adebisi during a rocky stretch on the offensive end. The lengthy guard served as the Seminoles' center, guarding Clemson’s PJ Hall.
Adebisi made an immediate impact for the Noles, using his wide-range wingspan on both ends to grab boards and put up second-chance opportunities. The game was tied at 32 with 1:15 left in the half. The entire stadium was on their feet when Florida State put on their belt buckle to lock down Clemson on the defensive end. The Tigers shot 1-11 to finish the half, scoring their last field goal with six minutes remaining.
Hamilton and the Seminoles went into the locker room with a 34-33 lead. The Noles shot 38% from the field and the Tigers cooled off to finish the half shooting 33% from downtown. Green was the Noles’ leading scorer with 11 points on 4-8 from the field
It was a discombobulated start to the second half for the Tigers, as they seemed lost in their own offense. The Seminoles scored five points in the first few minutes, but they gave up three fouls that were crucial for free throw bonuses later in the game.
Clemson marched their way right back to snatch the lead from FSU as the Tigers scored seven unanswered points in less than two minutes. In search of energy off the bench, the Seminoles coaching staff checked in Miller and Adebisi with 14:14 remaining.
Mills picked up two controversial fouls on back-to-back plays, sparking outrage from Seminole fans. After a tremendous hustle play from Miller, Corhen secured an and-one that lit up the Noles’ bench. Right out of a timeout for the Tigers, Clemson went on another 7-0 run to grab a 56-50 lead.
With 10 minutes left in the game, the Tigers were in the bonus. Mills was playing with four fouls, all of which he picked up in the second half. Florida State was 1-7 in their latest field goal attempts, and Cleveland broke that streak with a three-ball in transition. He buried another three with just under eight minutes remaining to give FSU a 59-57 lead.
Clemson picked up three fouls in a two-minute span, which put Florida State in the bonus. Miller took complete advantage of those free throws, helping the Noles keep a slim lead. FSU was in the double-bonus with Warley at the line, holding a two-point lead. Warley punched in both of the attempts, but the Seminoles kept putting the Tigers on the line for easy shots of their own.
A two-minute scoring drought for the Noles ended with a three from Mills, but Florida State had nothing to show on the defensive end. FSU held a 78-76 lead with one minute remaining. Clemson had the ball to end the half, down three points with 10.5 seconds remaining. The Tigers called two timeouts to draw up a play, but FSU fouled right away to make sure Clemson couldn’t attempt to tie the game.
Corhen was at the line with less than 10 seconds remaining, going 1-2. Florida State held an 81-79 lead with 8.5 seconds left and Clemson having possession. The Tigers left Tallahassee with a victory after they picked up an and-one to silence the crowd and head home.
Next game: The Seminoles will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to face the NC State Wolfpack on Feb. 1. NC State has a 90.1% chance to win, standing at 17-5 on the season. The game will be featured on the ACCN. The Noles are underdogs yet again, according to DraftKings. Their betting line to win the NCAA National Championship is currently +60000, tied with Boston College and Louisville as the lowest-ranked teams in the ACC.