Tigers get defensive in rout over No. 22 Florida St.


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – Defense, defense and more defense.

The Clemson Tigers avenged an earlier loss to Florida St. by playing perhaps their most complete defensive game of the season, limiting the Florida St. Seminoles to just 32.7% from the field (16-for-49) in a frantic, physical and sometimes loud 62-44 victory over the 22nd-ranked Seminoles Saturday in Littlejohn Coliseum.

The Tigers (15-6 overall, 4-3 ACC) were paced by Jerai Grants’ 14 points and eight rebounds, while Demontez Stitt chipped in 12 points and six assists.

Clemson held Florida St. to the lowest point total by an ACC opponent since 1997 and 2000, when Clemson also held North Carolina St. to 42 points in each of those seasons. The 44 points scored by the Noles also matched their lowest point output of the season, dating back to a 58-44 loss to Ohio St. in late November. FSU didn’t have a player break double digits in the scoring column – Chris Singleton and James Bernard each scored eight points to pace the Noles.

“It was a terrific performance by our guys,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “The energy level was as good as it has been all year. It was for 40 minutes. I knew our defense would be critical because FSU is difficult to score against. It helped that we got off to a good start, and it shows our maturity and growth as a team that we were able to weather a couple of lulls of our own.”

Clemson forced the Noles into 22 turnovers, and held a 34-32 edge on the glass, prompting Brownell to say it was his squad’s best defensive effort of the season.

“It makes it the best game we played that way in a significant game against a good team,” Brownell said. “We have played that way against other teams, but not the whole 40 minutes. We were active early, and contested shots and did a reasonable job of keeping them off the glass. We didn’t give in, and we kept playing defense. It was good to see the team embrace that identity.”

The Tigers were tough from the beginning, but were on fire offensively in the first seven minutes of the game, jumping out to a quick 13-4 lead barely four minutes into the contest. A few minutes later, Zavier Anderson stole the ball and fed Devin Booker for a dunk. Booker was fouled on the play, and his free throw put Clemson up 20-6 with 12:31 remaining in the first half.

The Noles then began to creep back into the game, and Clemson went cold from the floor. Booker’s dunk was the last field goal of the half for the Tigers, who led just 27-18 at the break.

At halftime, Brownell told his troops he wanted even more defensive intensity, according to Stitt.

“We wanted to make a point tonight that we are one of the best teams in this conference,” Stitt said. “Coach told us at halftime to turn it up even more, and I think we did that. I think we played well on the defensive end. They had seven assists and 22 turnovers for the game, and for a ranked team and a team that is supposed to be one of the best in our conference, that was a great effort by our team. Guys played hard. Guys helped each other and guys made big time plays when we needed it.”


The Tigers held the Seminoles without a field goal for the first 4:49 of the second half, and Stitt hit a driving layup, a 3-pointer from the corner and then fed Andre Young for another 3-pointer and the Tigers were up 35-18.

Clemson eventually doubled up FSU at 54-27 when Young hit another 3-pointer from the corner – again on a feed from Stitt – with 6:55 remaining. Grant then punctuated the victory – and brought the Littlejohn crowd to its feet - when he took a feed at the top of the key and drove down for a dunk over Singleton to put Clemson up 56-31 with 3:40 left in the contest.

Stitt said the Tigers went out on Saturday with the mindset that Florida St. wasn’t going to score.

“That’s one of our goals is to hold them to a limited number of points,” he said. “We don’t want to let those guys get on a roll because they have players that can make plays. One of our coaches gave us an article about how Florida State plays good defense and how they didn’t play well against Miami but they still won with their defensive efforts. With us, we just wanted to put pressure on them offensively and defensively. When we actually moved and got screens it was hard for them to guard us.”

FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said the Tigers contested every shot.

“We just didn’t have an answer,” Hamilton said. “Our offensive execution didn’t match Clemson’s defensive intensity. Clemson immediately got us on our heels. They came out red hot in the first half and we could never really recover. They just applied the defensive pressure in the beginning and that really bothered us.

“When we couldn’t handle the pressure, we started shooting the ball a lot quicker than we normally do. We didn’t respond to their really consistent defensive effort; and that’s to their credit. Coach Brownell has done a really good job preparing this team for this game and we came in and didn’t respond to the adversity they created for us in the first half.”

Grant was asked if Saturday’s game was “ugly” for fans to watch.

“I call it a great defensive effort, not ugly,” Grant said. “It’s just effort, defensive effort, trying to cut down on our turnovers, and really just trying to apply as much pressure as possible. They are a very good team, but at the same time we saw that their ball handlers were limited. We just tried to guard them, get in their faces and turn them over. And, when we couldn’t turn them over we wanted to force them into bad shots.

“Every single shot we tried to make it hard for them. It was hard for their guards to try to throw it into the post. It was definitely a good win, but at the same time we know we have to go on the road and win. Our next focus is our next game. Hopefully, we can move on from this and get our mojo back together.”

The Tigers return to action next Wednesday when they travel to Virginia for a game scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.


VISITORS: Florida State 15-6, 5-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
15 Shannon, Terrance... f  1-6    0-0    0-0    2  3  5   1   2  0  1  0  0  20
31 Singleton, Chris.... f  3-9    2-5    0-2    1  1  2   4   8  0  2  1  5  24
05 James, Bernard...... c  3-7    0-0    2-2    2  2  4   2   8  0  2  3  0  26
21 Snaer, Michael...... g  2-7    0-4    1-2    1  3  4   3   5  1  4  0  1  35
22 Kitchen, Derwin..... g  2-4    0-2    2-2    2  4  6   1   6  1  5  0  0  30
03 Loucks, Luke........    1-1    0-0    2-2    0  0  0   3   4  4  2  0  2  11
04 Dulkys, Deividas....    0-3    0-2    0-0    0  2  2   1   0  0  2  0  1  19
10 White, Okaro........    0-2    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   1   0  0  2  0  3  10
30 Miller, Ian.........    2-4    2-3    0-0    0  0  0   1   6  1  1  0  0  13
50 Kreft, Jon..........    2-6    0-0    1-2    3  2  5   5   5  0  0  0  0  12
   TEAM................                         1  2  3             1
   Totals..............   16-49   4-17   8-12  12 20 32  22  44  7 22  4 12 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  7-24 29.2%   2nd Half:  9-25 36.0%   Game: 32.7%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  0-4   0.0%   2nd Half:  4-13 30.8%   Game: 23.5%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  4-8  50.0%   2nd Half:  4-4  100 %   Game: 66.7%    3


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 15-6, 4-3
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
21 Narcisse, Bryan..... f  0-3    0-0    2-2    0  1  1   3   2  1  0  2  0  21
31 Booker, Devin....... f  3-8    2-5    1-1    1  5  6   1   9  0  3  2  2  31
45 Grant, Jerai........ c  5-11   0-0    4-6    5  3  8   0  14  0  1  2  0  29
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  5-10   2-4    0-1    0  4  4   0  12  6  3  0  4  38
11 Young, Andre........ g  3-10   3-8    0-0    1  2  3   3   9  2  4  0  1  34
03 Anderson, Zavier....    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  2  3   2   0  3  2  0  2  16
04 Baize, Jonah........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
05 Smith, Tanner.......    2-2    1-1    2-2    0  2  2   2   7  1  1  0  1  11
10 Baciu, Catalin......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
12 Stanton, Cory.......    0-2    0-2    4-4    1  1  2   0   4  0  0  0  0   5
24 Jennings, Milton....    1-2    0-1    3-4    3  1  4   3   5  0  2  0  0  11
44 Hopkins, DeAndre....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  1  0  1   1
   TEAM................                            1  1
   Totals..............   19-49   8-21  16-20  12 22 34  15  62 13 17  6 11 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  8-26 30.8%   2nd Half: 11-23 47.8%   Game: 38.8%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-10 30.0%   2nd Half:  5-11 45.5%   Game: 38.1%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  8-10 80.0%   2nd Half:  8-10 80.0%   Game: 80.0%    2


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Officials: Karl Hess, Brian Dorsey, Tim Kelly
Technical fouls: Florida State-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Florida State.................   18   26  -   44
Clemson.......................   27   35  -   62

Points in the paint-FS 18,CU 22. Points off turnovers-FS 17,CU 25.
2nd chance points-FS 10,CU 11. Fast break points-FS 6,CU 10.
Bench points-FS 15,CU 16. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times.
Last FG-FS 2nd-00:55, CU 2nd-03:23.
Largest lead-FS None, CU by 27 2nd-06:59.

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