Jan. 5, 2013
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Managing Editor
CLEMSON, S.C. — Florida State had just one victory in 10 previous tries at Clemson so it made complete sense Saturday evening when the Tigers’ second-half surge had the Seminoles in jeopardy of blowing a double-digit halftime lead with under 20 seconds left to play.
For the FSU men’s basketball team, it’s tough to win in South Carolina.
But despite a recent history of struggles at Clemson, FSU flexed its defensive prowess — the same “junkyard dog D” that it rode to a league title a season ago — in the final seconds of its Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Littlejohn Coliseum to hang on for a 71-66 victory.
The victory not only gave the ‘Noles (9-5, 1-0 ACC) a much needed ACC win to start the conference slate of games but it also put them back in the win column on a streak of road games that is now in its fourth contest. After falling to Auburn three nights ago, Florida State will now head to Maryland for an 8 p.m. game Wednesday unblemished in league play.
Okaro White paced the Seminoles with a team-high 15 points but it was his defensive play at the end of the ballgame that will be the lasting memory of his performance.
Clemson (8-5, 0-1) had trailed 38-25 at halftime but had battled back to within a 66-63 score thanks to a strong second half. Down by just three and in possession of the basketball, White stole the inbounds pass from the corner with 16.9 seconds on the game clock before quickly being fouled and hitting two free throws.
Then, after White’s free throws had pushed FSU’s lead to 68-63, Ian Miller nabbed the ensuing inbounds pass and sank 1-of-2 free throws before Clemson’s Milton Jennings drilled a 3-pointer with four seconds left to cut FSU’s lead back to just three at 69-66.
Terrance Shannon, who led the Seminoles with eight rebounds and was 5-of-7 from the line, then sank two game-sealing free throws for the FSU victory.
Shannon finished the game with 11 points and Miller added seven. Michael Snaer didn’t score in the first half despite FSU’s strong start to the game but finished with eight points, including a 3-pointer to start the second half that had given FSU a 16-point lead at the time. Terry Whisnant II was 3-for-5 from 3-point range and had 11 points of his own.
The Seminoles shot 48.1 percent from the field while holding the Tigers to 38.9 percent shooting and forcing 13 turnovers.
Devin Booker led the way for the home squad with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds. Clemson had four players reaching double-digit scoring marks.
FSU’s Jan. 9 game at Maryland will air live on ESPN3.