Any team would be pleased to make a 46-point improvement in the span of three weeks. On Saturday, the Clemson Tigers did just that, but still lost to the Florida State Seminoles.
Saturday’s 76-74 FSU victory was a far cry from the 109-61 pasting administered on Clemson three weeks ago, on February, but the Seminoles were still able to escape with a vital road win. The victory was only the second win for the Seminoles away from home in their last seven road games.
The problems befalling FSU during road games did not occur on Saturday. The team lost its poise before, but they withstood multiple Clemson runs throughout the game. In fact, the Seminoles trailed by three points with 2:24 remaining, but closed the game on a 7-2 run.
Florida State also suffered from free throw woes during their road skid, but that was not a problem on Saturday. The Seminoles converted 23 of 28 attempts from the line.
During the bad old days, the turnovers mounted, leading to several easy baskets by opponents. On Saturday, they turned the ball over only 10 times.
They clearly did not shoot as well as they did during the February 5 romp, but that was a once-in-a-season type of effort. They did the little things well and did just enough to win.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes played with poise, leading the team with 15 points and seven assists while committing only one turnover. Jonathan Isaac had 14 points and Dwayne Bacon 12.
“Knowing we can get down on the road and win in tough situations and play the way we did is definitely optimistic for us,” said Rathan-Mayes.
A vital defensive effort came in the final eight seconds, when Clemson had a chance to tie or win. The Seminoles were able to keep the ball out of the hands Tigers’ star Jaron Blossongame, who led all scorers with 24 points. Instead, Marcquise Reed missed the final shot at the buzzer.
With the win, Florida State temporarily moved into second place in the ACC with an 11-15 conference record. They are 23-6 overall.
This is a very important win for us,” said FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton. “It keeps pace and gives us the opportunity to control our destiny.”
On Tuesday, they travel to Duke to take on a Blue Devils team intent on revenge. Florida State blitzed Duke 88-72 last month in Tallahassee.
If the Blue Devils can improve on their performance by 15 points, Seminole Nation will be pleased.