Brownell says up and downs are to be expected with young players on the court

Florida State looking for a bounce-back after scoring just 36 points in loss to Virginia; Wake riding high after upsetting Wolfpack

Clemson center Devin Booker defends Florida State's Ian Miller in the second half.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson center Devin Booker defends Florida State's Ian Miller in the second half.

The first time Clemson played Florida State, the Seminoles blistered the nets for 38 first-half points.

Last Saturday, coach Leonard Hamilton's team struggled for 40 minutes against Virginia and managed just 36 points.

The Cavaliers, of course, were fresh off a 16-point loss to Clemson.

So what gives?

The middle of the ACC pack is, at this point, an undefined mess.

Wake Forest - another recent double-digit loser to Clemson - added its bit to the chaos last night by knocking off 18th-ranked N.C. State 86-84 at Winston-Salem. In Tuesday's other game, Maryland defeated Boston College 64-59.

Tonight, Duke plays at Miami, whose 4-0 record leads the league, while North Carolina is at home against Georgia Tech.

On Thursday, Virginia goes against Virginia Tech, while Clemson plays at Florida State in the first rematch of the conference season.

Currently, Miami sits atop the standings at 4-0, followed by Duke at 3-1. Every other team has at least two losses, and five have more than two losses.

N.C. State is in third place at 4-2, with Maryland and Wake Forest at 3-3. Grouped at 2-2 are UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State. Clemson is 2-3, Boston College is 1-4 and Georgia Tech is 0-4.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell says there are a lot of young teams working to find their way during the first half of the ACC season, and that Clemson and Florida State are among them.

"Leonard and I are in similar situations with young teams," Brownell said. "He's playing a bunch of young players, too, and this is what happens sometimes with young teams. It's difficult for these guys to play as well as you would like them to play consistently at this level when they're facing competition every night that is very challenging, and the intensity of the games is certainly ratcheted up a notch when you come into league play and the arenas are full and every possession is meaningful. And I think you're going to have some times when your young players aren't going to play as well as you'd like."

FSU brought the fight to the Tigers in their last meeting - a 71-66 Seminoles victory at Littlejohn Coliseum that kicked off the conference schedule for both teams.

"We got down a good bit and didn't play well early, and Florida State made a bunch of threes," said Brownell. "They got some in transition on us, and then we had some young guys make some really poor decisions defensively that resulted in some open shots. To Florida State's credit, they made them.

"They have a very good perimeter shooting team. They came in here really ready to play and really just outplayed us in that game. So we've got to regroup and try to go down on the road and find a way to win."

Florida State is coming off its worst offensive performance of the season - a game in which the Seminoles made just 14 baskets, missed 15 of 16 three-pointers, and turned the ball over 18 times.

“We normally make those shots, but tonight we just couldn’t hit and it changed the game," said FSU guard Michael Snaer after the Virginia game. "Normally, we have some good looks and normally we hit those shots down. You can assume it won’t be the same thing when we come out for our next game.”

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