Last season, Clemson used an inadvertent whistle and a last-second layup to squirt by Florida State in the Littlejohn Coliseum and grind out a 70-69 win.
This time, the Tigers relied on timely shooting in the second half and immense success on the offensive glass to anticlimactically down FSU 77-67. Clemson (7-1, 1-1 ACC). racked up 19 offensive rebounds and scored 48 points in the second half. Clyde Trapp had 15 points and 6 rebounds for Clemson.
For the Noles (5-2, 1-1 ACC), freshman Scottie Barnes led the way in points and assists with 14 and 5, while also grabbing 5 boards. FSU turned the ball over 16 times in their first road game of the season.
A sloppy start for the Seminoles with 6 turnovers and 0-for-5 from the field gave way to just a small 4-0 lead for Clemson. FSU didn’t get on the board until Rayquan Evans hit a floater 5 minutes into the game. Evans posted a new FSU career high with 9, all of it in the first half.
After Sardarr Calhoun came off the bench to hit a three, Wyatt Wilkes threw a long full-court inbounds pass to M.J. Walker. The senior slammed one home to grab a 7-6 early lead, FSU’s first lead of the night.
Wilkes kept it going with a long-range bomb from three-point land to tie it up at 10 with about 12 minutes to go in the first half. The defensive squabble continued when Barnes drove in for a floater to retake the lead.
Clemson was shooting a paltry 19 percent midway through the first half. Barnes connected on a three for the third straight game and Balsa Koprivica knocked in a put-back from Barnes the next possession.
But then the sophomore center was then called for back-to-back fouls on the offensive end. FSU used the three to pad their lead the rest of the first half. Wilkes, Evans, and Walker all were successful on three-point tries. The Noles finished 6-of-14 from beyond the arc in the first half, and led 34-29 at the break.
Coming out of the half, Barnes dished out his fifth assist early but Clemson forced a few more FSU turnovers to cut into their lead. Florida State was up just 1 point when Malik Osborne swatted away a Tiger dunk attempt. FSU had 6 blocks as a team on the evening.
It became a back-and-forth affair with multiple lead changes. That included Anthony Polite’s three-pointer to make it 43-42 Florida State, his first basket of the night. Clemson began to have some more success with their dribble-penetration, and continued to answer FSU.
A turnaround baseline fadeaway from Walker regained the lead once again 47-46 with 12 minutes remaining. Barnes had to sit with foul trouble after he was called for his fourth.
An offensive foul call on the Tigers wiped away what would have been a basket to put them up 4. Clemson continued to use second-chance points to sting the Noles, and led by 54-52 with under 7 minutes to play.
FSU coughed up back-to-back turnovers and Clemson used a 6-0 run to gain further control. Barnes re-entered the game and drove in for a layup but Clemson converted and and-one and hit a three to go up 66-57.
Then, Barnes was fouled, rebounded his own miss on the second free throw, and dropped in another bucket to cut the deficit back to 6. The superb freshman continued to keep FSU in the game with a steal and another layup. But Clemson tightened their grip on the game when they went up 9 with less than three minutes left.
Anthony Polite hit a last-gasp three, but it was no use as Clemson ran it out to take down FSU.
Florida State turns their attention to the #20 Duke Blue Devils (3-2) this Saturday back at home in the Tucker Center. After their Tuesday night game against Pittsburgh was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests, Duke has not played since Dec. 16 when they defeated Notre Dame to open ACC play.
Stay tuned to Tomahawk Nation for post-game comments from head coach Leonard Hamilton and players.