CLEMSON — An unforgettable Clemson game was followed by one best forgotten.
Three days after routing No. 4 Duke, 10th-ranked Clemson squandered a 19-point second-half lead and lost 65-61 Saturday. Unlike Wednesday, when a mass of Clemson players and fans stormed the Littlejohn Coliseum floor in celebration, this time only a handful of Florida State players were jubilant.
Clemson officials could not immediately determine whether the blown lead was the largest in program history.
The Tigers blew an 18-point lead in last year’s NCAA tournament first-round loss to Villanova and squandered a 16-point advantage at home against Virginia two seasons ago.
“I told the team if anybody in this room thinks we played with the same energy and urgency and toughness we did the other night, they’re mistaken,” coach Oliver Purnell said. “It wasn’t really close.
“Yet at the same time, we were in a situation where we weren’t playing at our best and had control of the game. Didn’t stop them, and we couldn’t score there at the end ... that all goes together with not being sharp. And as a result, we lost a tough one.”
Despite not being sharp, the Tigers took a double-digit lead early, held it for much of the first half, started the second half with a 10-0 run and held a 57-42 lead with 8:52 remaining.
From that point, Clemson managed one field goal — a Trevor Booker dunk with 4:19 left — and four points. The Tigers missed 10 of their final 11 shots.
“We had to have stops if we were going to have any chance,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “It was almost like we played the game and didn’t worry about the score. I looked up and realized we were right where we needed to be.”
Purnell said Clemson lost confidence in its offense — after being unable to get the ball into Booker — and started forcing shots.
Compounding matters, Clemson’s defense fell apart during the same stretch. Florida State scored on 10 of 12 possessions during the comeback.
With 2:03 left, Soloman Alabi gave the Seminoles their first lead since the opening minute.
Clemson had two chances to retake the lead, but sophomore guard Terrence Oglesby missed a 3-pointer and reserve swingman David Potter’s drive with a minute to go was blocked by Alabi.
Florida State senior point guard Toney Douglas sealed the deal by sinking five of six free throws in the final minute.
“There isn’t anyone we can point the finger at except ourselves,” senior wing K.C. Rivers said. “We shot ourselves in the foot.
“We just didn’t keep our foot on the gas pedal. Wednesday night we saw (Duke) getting weak, and we took advantage of it. We didn’t do that. We gave them life, that’s what happened.”
The loss dropped Clemson (19-3, 5-3 ACC) into a tie for fourth with the Seminoles (18-5, 5-3) at the midpoint of the conference season.
Booker and sophomore point guard Demontez Stitt paced the Tigers with 11 points apiece.
For Florida State, Douglas scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. Alabi, a 7-foot-2 freshman center, scored a season-high 17 points to go with nine rebounds and five blocks.
The Tigers finished with 18 turnovers, shot 6-for-24 from 3-point range and gave up 17 offensive rebounds.
|FloridaSt.||22||43 — 65|
|Clemson||30||31 — 61|
3-Point Goals: Florida State 7-20 (Douglas 3-9, DeMercy 1-1, Loucks 1-1, Dulkys 1-4, Singleton 1-5). Clemson 6-24, .250 (Rivers 2-6, Booker 1-2, Stitt 1-3, Potter 1-5, Oglesby 1-6, Smith 0-1, Young 0-1). Turnovers: Florida State 17, Clemson 18.
Officials—Karl Hess, Roger Ayers, Sean Hull. A—10,000.