Clemson, FSU jockey for position in jumbled ACC picture

Clemson forward Milton Jennings reacts when a time-out is called in the second half as the TIgers began to narrow Florida State's lead. Clemson lost their Atlantic Coast Conference opener 71-66 Saturday afternoon.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson forward Milton Jennings reacts when a time-out is called in the second half as the TIgers began to narrow Florida State's lead. Clemson lost their Atlantic Coast Conference opener 71-66 Saturday afternoon.

CLEMSON — Clemson and Florida State have had their fair share of ups-and-downs early in Atlantic Coast Conference action.

The Seminoles (10-7, 2-2 ACC) began conference play with a 71-66 win in Littlejohn Coliseum and proceeded to grab a victory at Maryland as well, 65-62, for a quick 2-0 start.

But in their home opener, North Carolina controlled the boards (14 offensive rebounds) to deal a 77-72 loss, and the struggles continued on the ensuing trip Charlottesville, Va., missing 14-of-15 three-pointers with no double-digit scorers in a 56-36 Cavaliers win.

Last time out, the Tigers (10-7, 2-3) saw their hopes of topping .500 in conference fade late in Raliegh, N.C. They tied things up with 3:37 to go after trailing all game, but Wolfpack free throws and a couple late turnovers sealed the defeat.

Previewing FSU, pt. 2

Tigers go for revenge

Going into the 8:05 tipoff in Tallahassee, Fla., the two are still in the thick of an ACC race where Miami is the only team without two losses or more.

The Tigers-Seminoles’ rematch comes under three weeks from the last one, which Clemson’s Brad Brownell says doesn’t really offer an advantage to either side.

"You just play when they are," Brownell said. "Both teams have had time to kinda get past the last game and get ready for this one. I’m sure they aren’t happy with their last outing and we’re a little disappointed with ours as well. "

Clemson forward Devin Booker says it works out well from a player’s perspective.

"We kinda have an advantage to know what we’re up against," Booker said. "They got us the first time and we know what we got to do and change to actually beat them this time."

In their first date this season, FSU jumped out to a 24-8 lead 10 minutes in and held a 13-point halftime edge. The Seminoles hit 10 three-pointers, led by forward Okaro White (3-of-6).

"(Florida State) uses their athleticism, their energy and their speed to affect the game," Brownell said. "If you don’t go into this game really ready to play, you’re going to have problems."

The winning formula was similar last year at the Seminoles’ Tucker Center, with FSU knocking down 11 perimeter shots to keep Clemson at bay in an 80-72 triumph.

Adding injury to insult in last week’s Virginia loss, Seminoles forward Terrance Shannon was carried off the court on a stretcher after sustaining a sprained neck. The 6-8 junior Shannon leads FSU in rebounds (6.3) and is third in scoring (8.5), but isn’t expected back any time soon. He scored 11 points with eight rebounds in Littlejohn back on Jan. 5.

"You don’t replace his energy," Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said on the school’s official site. "You would like to, but he has exceptional energy and courage and competitive spirit. He plays with such passion that he inspires other players. So we’re definitely going to miss that part of what he brings to our team."

Also factoring big in the prior game (19 points and 11 rebounds) and even more lately is Booker, who scored a career-high 27 points against N.C. State on Sunday. He leads the conference now in field goal percentage (54.1) and is fifth in points per game (17) in ACC play.

"He’s played great, as well as any post player in our league," said Brownell. "It’s nice to see him to do it consistently (now) instead of just one or two games."

Clemson and Florida State will be televised on the ACC Network, which can be found locally on WMYA.

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