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Tigers drop 71-66 decision to FSU to open ACC play

  by David Hood - Senior Writer - Saturday, January 5, 2013 7:20 PM

CLEMSON – So close and yet so far.

The Clemson Tigers had several opportunities to tie the score in the final minute or draw within a point, but costly turnovers and a lack of a go-to player on the offensive end negated a comeback as Florida St. snuck out of Littlejohn Coliseum with a 71-66 victory Saturday afternoon in the ACC opener.

Devin BookerDevin Booker
Sr. Forward
#31 6-8, 250
Whitmire, SC

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led Clemson (8-5, 0-1 ACC) with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while K.J. McDanielsK.J. McDaniels
So. Forward
#32 6-6, 200
Birmingham, AL

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added 15 and Jordan RoperJordan Roper
Fr. Guard
#20 5-11, 165
Columbia, SC

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11. Florida St. (9-5, 1-0) was led by Okaro White’s 15 points.

Clemson hit on 18-of-30 free throw attempts, but hit just 8-of-17 in the second half.

Clemson head coach Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
Head Coach
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said slow starts in Littlejohn have killed his team.

“That was a disappointing, frustrating loss tonight,” Brownell said. “I don’t know why we have gotten off to some poor starts at home. That has really cost us and we have a hard time scoring. You have to give Florida St. credit – they made shots in the first half and shot better than they normally do. The problem when you are struggling on offense and they are shooting well is that you are always 5-on-5 and it becomes a circle.”

The Tigers trailed by 13 at halftime and a quick 3-pointer by Florida St.’s Michal Snaer made it 41-25 and it appeared that Florida St. would run Clemson out of the building.

The Tigers fought back, however, and Devin Booker’s layup with 2:12 remaining brought the Tigers to within three points at 65-62, the closest the Tigers had been to the Seminoles since trailing 10-6 early in the game.

It would take Florida St. almost a minute-and-a-half to score again, but the Tigers had a missed free throw and two critical turnovers – one each by seniors Booker and Milton JenningsMilton Jennings
Sr. Forward
#24 6-9, 225
Summerville, SC

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– and a bizarre double-foul call on both teams led to Florida St. and Clemson each hitting one free throw to make it 66-63 with 37 seconds remaining.

The Tigers retained possession after the foul shots, but were unable to get off a shot and Brownell called timeouts with 29 seconds, 22 seconds and 18 seconds remaining on the game clock.

Following the timeout at the 18 second mark, Rod HallRod Hall
So. Guard
#4 6-1, 210
Augusta, GA

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attempted to inbound the ball from the deep right corner, but was unable to find an open teammate and Jennings fouled White, who intercepted the pass. White hit both free throws to make it 68-63.

Another turnover by Jennings led to a Booker foul, FSU hit one free throw for a 69-63 lead, and Jennings finally came through for the Tigers when he hit a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining that made it 69-66. Terrance Shannon hit both free throws for the Noles, however, sealing the victory and giving Clemson a winless start to ACC play.

Brownell said the inability to get points in the last flurry of activity was frustrating.

“We got the ball to K.J. and he drove to the basket and missed a layup, and Book missed the tip but we maintained possession,” he said. “We executed that one really well, and on the next one we tried to get a shot for Milt and they sniffed it out. Then they made it hard for Rod to see, and on the last one Jordan didn’t understand what to do and didn’t pop out on the second cut.”

The Tigers fell into an early hole in the first half and never recovered or mounted much of an offensive threat. Clemson held a brief 4-2 lead just three minutes into the game, but that lead was short-lived as FSU got hot from the field.

Booker hit a shot in the lane that made it 8-6 FSU, but the Noles went on an 11-0 run to make 19-6 and eventually pushed the lead to as many as 14 and led 38-25 at the break.

Brownell said he was pleased with Booker’s performance.

“He couldn’t do much more than he did tonight,” Brownell said. “He has played well. We knew this was a game where he would have a chance. We made a concerted effort to try and throw it to him.”

The Tigers return to action Tuesday night, traveling to Durham to take on Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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