Tigers Escape Twice, Down FSU In Double OT

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Clemson stared almost certain defeat in the face twice Saturday night and lived to tell about it. Both times.

After getting buzzer-beater to tie the game at the end of regulation and another to turn the trick again to force a second overtime, the Tigers finally put Florida State away in the second extra period, 97-85. The win snapped a two-game losing streak, and made it five straight over the Seminoles at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The game was played before an announced crowd of 10,000. Clemson became the first team in the 55-year history of the ACC to play overtime in its first two conference games.

"I thought our guys played with determination and passion," head coach Oliver Purnell said after it was all said and done. "It was great that we won...If you lose three in a row like that it hurts your confidence."

The win didn't come easy. In fact, it looked for a while like the 18th-ranked Tigers would come up short yet again - especially when Toney Douglas nailed a 3-pointer with 16.7 seconds left in regulation to give FSU (12-5, 1-1 ACC) a 67-64 lead.

But then came the first of two escape acts that would have made Houdini proud.

Terrence Oglesby missed a forced 3-pointer after the timeout, but James Mays got the offensive rebound and found Trevor Booker out beyond the arc just to the right of the key. Booker launched a 3-pointer that banked home at time expired, tying the game at 67-67 and forcing overtime.

In the extra period it was virtually the same situation; this time Clemson (13-3, 1-1) trailed by two, 78-76, and inbounding underneath its own basket with 3.7 seconds to go. K.C. Rivers missed a mid-range fade-away jumper off the inbound pass, but Mays rebounded on the opposite side and followed with a 5-footer - again as time expired - to force a second overtime.

"I don't think any of our fans that have seen our first two ACC games will miss another ACC game all year," Purnell said.

The Tigers finally ran away and hid in the second extra session.

A Rivers 3-pointer at 3:51 put Clemson ahead 83-80, and then Oglesby took over. The freshman hit long 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Tigers up 89-80. And after Booker and the Seminoles' Uche Echefu traded two-pointers, Oglesby drained another deep 3-pointer to extend the lead back to nine, 94-85.

Booker, who scored a game-high 29 points, then blocked an Echefu shot at the top of the key, ran down the loose ball in the backcourt, and was intentionally fouled by the FSU center with 1:04 remaining. He hit one of two, then was fouled again on the next possession and hit both shots to ice the game for Clemson.

"Book's developing his game all the time," Purnell said. "We've been working with him on the three...He needs to be able to shoot that shot to keep people honest. He needed to take more of a leadership role (these last two games) with Mays injury, and he has."

Oglesby finished with 19 points in support of Booker, hitting all four of his 3-point attempts in the two overtimes after shooting 2-of-7 during regulation.

Mays, playing much better with the cast on his left hand, added 16, while Hammonds finished with 14 and Rivers 12.

Echefu's 24 topped Florida State, while Isiah Swann, Toney Douglas and Ralph Mims all added 16. Jason Rich finished with 11.

Clemson is back in action on Tuesday, hosting N.C. State.

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