CLEMSON, S.C. (Seminoles.com)- The No. 16 Florida State Seminoles set a school record Tuesday night , winning their eighth straight conference game after defeating Clemson, 77-64.
The Seminoles (21-5, 9-4) continued their dominant stretch of play, earning their third straight double-digit victory in the streak and having controlled the paint on both ends of the floor.
After outscoring Wake Forest and Georgia Tech 78-28 in the paint, holding a plus-28 rebounding advantage and averaging 6.0 blocks per game in their last two games, the Noles outscored the Tigers (15-11, 5-8) 36-26 in the paint, out-rebounded Clemson 43-32 and blocked four shots.
Redshirt sophomore forward Mfiondu Kabengele powered the Seminoles, earning his fourth career double-double by scoring a team-high 19 points, securing a team-high 11 rebounds, and also recorded two blocks while shooting nine of 13 from the floor.
The Burlington, Ont., native has been a force for the Noles all season, proving to be the only player in the country to lead his team in scoring while not yet starting a game. During the Noles’ current eight-game win streak, he has been even better.
Kabengele has averaged 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 58.9 percent from the floor, 57.9 percent from 3-point range and 83.9 percent from the free-throw line during the streak, including two victories over the Tigers.
After a slow start that saw the Seminoles trail 6-2 in the game’s first four minutes, the Noles’ offense came alive.
Junior guard Trent Forrest sparked the offense, making a driving layup in the paint. On the next possession for the Tigers, senior center Christ Koumadje blocked a jump shot that led to a slam from redshirt senior forward Phil Cofer.
When the Tigers missed their fifth shot in a row on the following possession, Cofer later kicked out to senior forward Terance Mann, who hit a step back 3-point shot to give the Seminoles their first lead at 9-6.
Throughout the Noles’ eight-game win streak, Mann has showcased his ability to shoot the long ball, as he has been on a career-best pace. During the eight-game span, he has hit 10 3-pointers and has made 58.8 percent from beyond the arc.
A few possessions later, Kabengele hit a smooth turnaround jump shot that extended the Seminoles’ lead to 12-6 and capped a 10-0 run.
With 10:28 left in the first half, the bench gave a spark to add to the Seminoles’ lead. Off of a pass by redshirt freshman forward RaiQuan Gray, senior guard PJ Savoy hit a 3-point shot. On back-to-back possessions, Kabengele and Gray would hit their shots to bring the lead to 21-14.
Florida State’s depth continued to flex on Tuesday night. Nine different Seminoles scored, and the reserve unit outscored the Tigers’ reserves 30-2. Florida State’s ‘boom squad,’ the name given to its bench, has now outscored its opponents 427-156 in ACC play.
After Clemson answered Florida State with a 7-0 to bring the score to 23-21 with 5:21 left, Trent Forrest slammed home a driving dunk in the lane that began a 15-2 run of their own to end the half up 38-23.
Forrest continued to prove to be one of the better all-around guards in the ACC. The Chipley, Fla., native finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a steal while shooting 5 of 8 from the floor.
The Noles began the second half by dominating the paint. Up 47-31 with 17:32 left in the half, Christ Koumadje recorded back-to-back slams to put the Seminoles up 51-36. After his second dunk, Koumadje would follow with a block on the defensive end of the court.
Koumadje continued his career-best stretch in a Seminoles uniform. After turning in back-to-back double-doubles, he followed by recording 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks on 4-of-6 shooting.
Over his last three games, Koumadje is averaging 13.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 76 percent from the floor.
Trailing 53-36 with 15:28 left in regulation, Clemson began to claw its way back in to the matchup by cutting the score down to 59-52 with 8:09 remaining.
Florida State then showed its experience as it fired back with the 16-6 run with a 9-2 run.
Kabengele hit on a layup off of an offense rebound, followed by a jumper by Trent Forrest and a 3-point shot by Kabengele on consecutive possessions.
The ACC’s potential best sixth man saved his best basketball for the closing stretch of the game after Clemson closed the lead to seven. Kabengele scored seven points in a four-and-a-half-minute span that extended the Seminoles’ lead to 69-57 with 3:07 left.
With less than two minutes to play, the Seminoles began to close the game out with consistency from the free-throw line. Forrest and sophomore guard M.J. Walker each hit three of four free throws to put the game out of reach.
The Seminoles put an exclamation point on their fourth ACC road victory of the season after Terance Mann put home a break away dunk off of a Clemson free throw to put the score at 77-62.
Clemson would hit a layup to bring the score to 77-64 and Florida State then dribbled out the clock.
The Seminoles turn next to Chapel Hill, N.C., on Saturday, where the Seminoles will finish a three-game road swing and look to extend their school-record ACC winning streak against the eighth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.
Tipoff is set for 3:45 and the game will be broadcasted nationally on CBS.