No. 4 Florida State looks to hold off upset-minded Clemson
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The eighth-seeded Clemson Tigers will be looking for another upset when they play the top-seeded and fourth-ranked Florida State Seminoles in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday afternoon at Greensboro, N.C.
Clemson (16-15) defeated visiting Florida State less than two weeks ago, winning 70-69 on Feb. 29.
The Tigers drew six offensive charges in that game, the fourth most in program history.
"I'm not sure I've ever been in a game that had that many (charges)," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said.
That game also featured a game-winning, lefty layup by Clemson freshman point guard Al-Amir Dawes, who drove the length of the court and scored with one second left.
"I knew how much time I had left," said Dawes, who scored 18 points. "I was ready to make a play."
Florida State (26-5) has won two straight games since that loss at Clemson. The Seminoles went 16-0 at home this season -- the only team in the ACC to go undefeated on its court -- but that's no longer a factor. They are 10-5 away from home.
Florida State crushed visiting Clemson 72-53 the first time the teams met this season, on Dec. 8. The Seminoles -- known for their relentless depth, energy and athleticism -- got hot in that game, making 15 of 32 3-point attempts (46.9 percent). They really found their stroke in the second half, making 11 of 18 from long range (61.1 percent).
"Once they get momentum," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, "it's extremely difficult to stop them."
Florida State's athleticism shows up in different ways, including blocked shots. In the two games against Clemson this season, the Seminoles swatted 12 shots to just two for Clemson.
Hamilton, who led Florida State this season to its first ACC regular-season title, was named the league's Coach of the Year on Monday, his third such award.
Three Seminoles players -- Trent Forrest, Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams -- earned All-ACC recognition as well.
Forrest, a 6-foot-4 senior point guard, was named to the All-ACC second team as well as the league's All-Defense squad. He averaged 11.6 points and finished second in the league in steals (2.2) and 10th in assists (4.1). He finished second in the voting for the league's Defensive Player of the Year, and he needs 15 more steals to become Florida State's career leader in that category.
Vassell, a 6-6 sophomore shooting guard, was also named to the All-ACC second team. He led Florida State in scoring (12.7 points per game) and finished tied for second in the league's voting for Most Improved Player. He averaged just 4.5 points as a freshman before making a big leap.
Williams, a 6-8 forward, was named the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year and also found a spot on the league's All-Freshman team. Williams, who has come in off the bench in all 31 of the Seminoles' games so far, is fourth on the team in scoring (9.0) and rebounds (4.0) while leading in blocks (1.0). He is considered Florida State's best pro prospect.
The Seminoles, who got a double-bye to get to the quarterfinals, also boast another talented player, M.J. Walker, a 6-5 junior guard. He finished third on the team in scoring (10.6) and made honorable mention All-ACC.
Clemson is led by Aamir Simms, who made third-team All-ACC and finished fifth in the league in the voting for Most Improved Player. He paces the Tigers in scoring (13.1) and rebounds (7.3). On Wednesday, he had 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in Clemson's 69-64 second-round win over Miami.
Dawes scored a team-high 18 points against the Hurricanes.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 12, 2020