Tigers Enjoy Taste of Victory Again, Pound FSU


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - Not only is it apparent that Clemson's players are enjoying the taste of victory these days, it's obvious they're hungry for more.


Led again by the amazing play of senior point guard Edward Scott, the Tigers rolled to a 74-60 victory over Florida State Saturday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum. The win was Clemson's third straight, fourth in its last five Atlantic Coast Conference outings, and clinches the school's first winning season since 1998-99.


It also gave the Tigers (15-8, 5-7) a 2 1/2 game lead over Florida State, now firmly entrenched in the ACC basement, while at the same time moving Larry Shyatt's team into a fifth-place tie in the league standings with Virginia and Georgia Tech.


And, with North Carolina's 40-point loss at Maryland Saturday (96-56), Clemson has - for the time being - taken itself out of position to be in yet another ACC tournament play-in game.


Ahhhhh. The sweet taste of victory.


"It's very good," said sophomore forward Olu Babalola. "We want to win every game left...Whenever you win a game it builds confidence and momentum, and we keep using it for the next game or the next practice. Every time we touch a basketball we try to push it as far as we can go with it."


How far the Tigers can go, no one knows at this juncture. But it's amazing how far they've come in a span of just 11 days.


Since the deflating loss at South Carolina on Feb. 12, Clemson has responded with wins over North Carolina, Virginia and the Seminoles (12-12, 3-10). They've gone from last place to tied for fifth in the ACC during that stretch, and suddenly have added a bit of legitimacy to the NCAA Tournament talk that many scoffed at following the loss to the Gamecocks.


And they've done most of the damage behind the play of Scott, who finally is healthy after battling the flu for more than three weeks.


Only a missed free throw with :26 left kept the senior from his second straight 30-point performance. But 29 was plenty, especially when combined with the defensive gem he spun on FSU's leading scorer, Tim Pickett.


Pickett, who came into the game averaging 17 points per game, was held to just seven Saturday. Scott, who drew the defensive assignment, held Pickett to just one official field goal attempt - a miss - in the first half. Pickett's only scoring came from the free throw line, where he hit five of six.


He had one field goal in the second half before being forced to sit down with his fourth foul at 15:02. He returned with 8:39 remaining but was on the floor for less than a minute, fouling out as Scott took him to the basket in transition for a 3-point play.


"I thought Edward Scott had one of his finest games," Shyatt said. "His defense on Pickett, especially early in the game, had a lot to do with our start. He controlled the ball well on offense, and Florida State does a good job fronting our post players so our perimeter has to be effective."


It was, especially in the first half when the Tigers took a 15-point lead into the locker room.


Scott had 18 points in the half, coming on a variety of drives to the basket and pull-up jumpers. He also hit a pair of 3-pointers in the half, as did Babalola, who scored 10 of his 15 points in the first 20 minutes.


Chey Christie also provided an early boost from his guard spot, hitting the medium range jumper consistently and showing the ability to drive to the basket and score. Christie finished with 12 points, 10 in the first half.


"Today we played against a team with a hunger and a desire," said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton. "When a team has a goal and a desire it is much more difficult. Every time we failed to contest a shot they made us pay. They were in a zone."


Along with hunger and desire the Tigers also showed some killer instinct.


For instance, when Pickett returned to the lineup with his four fouls, Clemson went directly after him. Guarding Babalola instead of Scott, Pickett found himself defending the larger player on the block his first two possessions back in the game.


The first entry pass to Babalola ended with the Clemson forward kicking the ball out to a wide-open Shawan Robinson for a 3-pointer. The second time Babalola got the ball, he spun directly to the basket and drew a foul, though it was called on Micheal Joiner rather than Pickett.


It was Clemson's next possession that Scott took Pickett to the basket in transition, drew the foul and sent the FSU guard to the bench for good.


"Coach wants me to call that play (on the block) for myself more often," Babalola said. "But today (when Pickett returned) Ed said we were going to run it every time down the floor. It just so happened that the third possession Pickett tried to stop Ed on the break, and there's no way he can do that."


Clemson also withstood a small run by Florida State at the beginning of the second half. The Tigers missed seven of their first eight shots as the Seminoles cut the lead to eight points, the last time 55-47 with 8:06 to go.


But Scott's transition basket on Pickett keyed an 11-1 run that put the Tigers ahead 66-48 at 5:08.


Florida State never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.


"We're playing well now, but I don't see a difference in the way this team practices," Shyatt said. "They have been consistent in their approach to the game all year. Even when we were losing we knew we were giving great effort in practice and in games."


NOTES


- Babalola's 15 points was his career-high. Scott has scored 105 points in his last four games.


- Clemson has won three straight ACC regular season games for the first time since the 1996-97 season, and has won three straight in the month of Feb. for the first time since 1990.


- The five ACC wins are the most since Shyatt's first season in 1998-99.


- Anthony Richardson led FSU in scoring with 16 points.



VISITORS: Florida State (12-12, 3-10)
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Joiner,Michael...... f  3-6    1-2    0-0    2  2  4   2   7  3  3  1  2  32
54 Richardson,Anthony.. f  7-10   0-0    2-4    1  4  5   1  16  1  1  0  1  32
15 Harvey,Trevor....... c  3-6    0-0    3-4    2  2  4   3   9  0  1  0  0  18
10 Johnson,Nate........ g  0-4    0-3    2-2    0  5  5   1   2  0  3  0  0  33
22 Pickett,Tim......... g  1-5    0-2    5-6    1  1  2   5   7  3  0  0  0  24
02 Haywood,Marcell.....    0-0    0-0    0-2    0  0  0   0   0  1  0  0  0   2
04 Galloway,Todd.......    5-7    1-2    0-1    1  1  2   3  11  2  1  0  1  21
21 Callier,Benson......    1-2    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   1   2  0  1  0  1   9
33 Mathews,Mike........    0-1    0-0    0-2    0  0  0   3   0  0  2  0  0  11
51 Waleskowski,Adam....    2-5    0-1    2-3    1  2  3   5   6  0  0  0  1  18
   TEAM................                         1  4  5   1
   Totals..............   22-46   2-11  14-24   9 22 31  25  60 10 12  1  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-16 62.5%   2nd Half: 12-30 40.0%   Game: 47.8%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-4  25.0%   2nd Half:  1-7  14.3%   Game: 18.2%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  8-12 66.7%   2nd Half:  6-12 50.0%   Game: 58.3%    3

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson Tigers (15-8, 5-7)
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
12 Babalola, Olu....... f  6-12   2-6    1-4    1  3  4   1  15  2  2  0  0  37
43 Hobbs, Chris........ f  1-1    0-0    0-0    1  2  3   4   2  1  1  0  1  20
05 Ford, Sharrod....... c  0-1    0-0    0-0    1  3  4   4   0  1  0  0  0  16
10 Scott, Edward....... g  9-16   2-3    9-11   1  2  3   2  29  6  1  0  1  38
14 Christie, Chey...... g  5-9    0-3    2-2    1  1  2   2  12  1  3  0  0  31
01 Betko, Julian.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  1  0  0  0   4
03 Nagys, Tomas........    0-4    0-1    8-8    1  4  5   3   8  0  1  1  0  24
11 Shay, Beau..........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
20 Holt, Walker........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
21 Henderson, Ray......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  3  3   4   0  0  0  0  1  16
22 Robinson, Shawan....    3-5    2-2    0-0    0  1  1   0   8  1  1  0  0  11
24 Shyatt, Geoff.......    0-0    0-0    0-2    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0  0+
33 Akingbala, Akin.....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   3
45 Douglas, Jermel.....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
   TEAM................                         1  2  3
   Totals..............   24-48   6-15  20-27   7 22 29  22  74 13  9  1  3 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-22 59.1%   2nd Half: 11-26 42.3%   Game: 50.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  4-9  44.4%   2nd Half:  2-6  33.3%   Game: 40.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 14-15 93.3%   2nd Half:  6-12 50.0%   Game: 74.1%    2

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Officials: Reggie Cofer, Rick Crawford, Tim Clougherty
Technical fouls: Florida State-, Waleskowski,Adam, TEAM. Clemson
Tigers-Ford, Sharrod.
Attendance: 9500
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Florida State.................   29   31  -   60
Clemson Tigers................   44   30  -   74

Points in the paint-FSU 28,CLEM 16. Points off turnovers-FSU 8,CLEM 13.
2nd chance points-FSU 8,CLEM 6. Fast break points-FSU 4,CLEM 2.
Bench points-FSU 19,CLEM 16. Score tied-1 time. Lead changes-4 times.

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