Miller's 15 lead Florida State to 56-41 victory
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton found himself strangely encouraged as his Seminoles missed their first five shots and turned the ball over twice in the opening 5 minutes against the country's top scoring defense in Clemson.
"I thought we were running some good offense," Hamilton said. "I knew we just had to keep patient."
Eventually, Florida State found its offense and matched the Tigers' defense, too, for a 56-41 victory Thursday night.
Ian Miller led the Seminoles (10-4, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) with 15 points while Aaron Thomas and Devin Bookert had 10 points apiece as they held Clemson (10-4, 1-1) to its lowest point total this season.
"We had a lot of guys that gave us good energy," Hamilton said.
And Florida State needed it. While the campus back home was consumed with the football team's undefeated, national championship showing, the basketball Seminoles wanted to avoid their first 0-2 ACC start since the 2006-07 season.
They did it by equaling Clemson's effort on defense — the Tigers had come in No. 1 nationally in fewest points allowed.
Florida State held the Tigers to a season-low 30 percent shooting and forced a season-high 18 turnovers, several of those which led to uncontested points on the other end.
"You've got to have some deflections that lead to easy baskets," Hamilton said.
Clemson's in-your-face defense seemed to rattle Florida State early as the Seminoles didn't score the first 4 minutes. Then they went on a 13-2 run to gain a lead that they gradually increased to 16 points in the second half.
The Tigers got within 50-41 in the final 4 minutes, but Baron Bojanovsky broke free for a dunk. Clemson trailed by double digits the rest of the way.
K.J. McDaniels led Clemson with 14 points.
"Obviously, a tough night at the office," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.
Bookert made five of his six shots in the second half after going scoreless the first 20 minutes.
Florida State came into this one seeking its first win in ACC play this season and looking to lengthen its win streak over the Tigers. The Seminoles' five straight wins, including all three over Clemson last season, tied the longest mark by either school in the basketball rivalry.
The Seminoles took their time in starting at Littlejohn Coliseum, missing their first five shots and going scoreless for more than 4 minutes. Clemson, though, couldn't take advantage with only two points in the stretch, and that proved costly when Florida State finally got going.
Miller's 3-pointer and two jams by Thomas were part of 13-2 run Florida State used to take control.
Clemson had its share of stops in the opening half. The Tigers just couldn't overcome the taller Seminoles and were limited to 6-of-26 shooting the first 20 minutes.
Clemson went more than 6 minutes down the stretch without scoring until Adonis Filer was fouled on a drive to the basket with 2.8 seconds remaining. Filer made both shots to cut Florida State's lead to 21-16 at the break.
McDaniels, the Tigers' top scorer this winter, was just 2 of 6 from the field in the opening half for five points.
Brownell said he tried to pick his team up at halftime, the message being that as poorly as the Tigers played they were very much in the hunt. He challenged his players to dig deep and do something special for themselves.
"But we just couldn't get it down," Brownell said. "That part's a little disappointing."
Thomas had eight first-half points for the Seminoles while Jarquez Smith had six.
Clemson's point total matched the second-lowest of Brownell's four seasons as coach. The only fewer points came in a 68-40 loss to Duke a year ago. The Tigers take on the Blue Devils here Saturday.
Brownell acknowledged the difficulty of bringing his club back from this poor an effort in less than 48 hours.
"Hopefully, we'll play better and have a little more spark," he said.