Florida St. sets school record in win over slumping Tigers
Clemson lost its third consecutive game (Photo by Josh Kelly, USAT)

Florida St. sets school record in win over slumping Tigers

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – A three-game losing streak in late February is not optimal for a bubble team chasing a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 16 Florida St. rode a 15-2 run to end the first half to a dominant 77-64 victory over Clemson Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum, giving the Tigers a three-game losing streak since knocking off a ranked Virginia Tech team on February 9th.

Clemson falls to 15-11 overall and 5-8 in ACC play, while Florida St. improves to 21-5 overall and 9-4 in the league.

Florida State won a school-record eighth consecutive ACC game – they have won each of their games since defeating Clemson 77-68 on January 22nd in Tallahassee. Florida State is 4-0 at home and 4-0 on the road in ACC play during their current seven-game ACC winning streak. Clemson is now 32-43 all-time against the Seminoles.

Marcquise Reed led Clemson with 20 points, while Elijah Thomas added 13 and Shelton Mitchell 12.

FSU outscored Clemson 19-9 in second-chance points, outrebounded the Tigers 43-32, the Seminole bench outscored Clemson's 30-2, and FSU outscored Clemson 36-26 in the paint.

“Well, a tough night tonight. We just didn’t play as well as we’ve been playing in certain games. Certainly, a lot of that is Florida State, they’re playing at a very good level,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “Physically they are hard to handle. They’re big and strong at every position from point guard to center.”

Florida St. held a 15-point lead at intermission and kept that working margin for much of the first 11 minutes of the second half. The Seminoles opened up a 59-43 lead after a David Nichols 3-pointer with 10:42 to play, but the Tigers began to show signs of life.

Elijah Thomas grabbed his own missed shot and hit the follow to make it 59-49. He was fouled on the play and hit the foul shot to make it 59-50 with 8:44 to play, part of a 7-0 Clemson run. Following a Seminole turnover, Skara grabbed a rebound and hit the putback to make it 59-52.

Florida St. eventually pushed the lead back to 13 at 66-53, and the Tigers couldn’t get back to single digits as the Seminoles hit free throws down the stretch.

“I thought our kids tried. I thought we had energy. I thought we were ready,” Brownell said. “I thought we got demoralized in the first half when we couldn’t score. I thought that really took some juice out of our guys. They have a lot of guys. That’s their strength. They keep fresh bodies in there defensively. They wear you down. That’s obviously not a strength for this year’s team for us. Our bench is just not producing at the level. Our freshmen are not quite ready.”

The Tigers jumped out to the quick 6-2 lead. David Skara opened the game with a 3-pointer, and hit a free throw a minute later gave Clemson the four-point advantage. It was at that point that the ‘Noles started their first big run of the half, outscoring Clemson 10-0 over four minutes to take a 12-6 lead.

The Seminoles eventually opened up a 9-point lead at 23-14, but Mitchell was fouled and hit the foul shot after hitting a 3-pointer, and Reed hit a 3-pointer of his own that brought Clemson to within two at 23-21.

It was at that point that FSU went on another 10-0 run over five minutes to take a 33-21 lead with just over two minutes to play. Skara hit a layup with 1:45 to play to end that run, but the ‘Noles ended the half on another 5-0 run to take a 38-23 lead into the break. Overall, Florida St. outscored Clemson 15-2 over the last 5:21 of the half.

Clemson returns to action Saturday, hosting Boston College in a noon tip.

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