TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For 30 minutes Clemson played one its best basketball games of the season and Florida State played one of its worst, and the combination was almost good enough to give the Tigers their first Atlantic Coast Conference road victory of 2013.
Almost, but not quite.
Brad Brownell’s team led by eight points at halftime and by double digits much of the second half before squandering their advantage over the final 10 minutes in a stunning 60-57 loss.
“Obviously a very painful loss,” Brownell said. “We were in charge of the game most of the way and played very well. But our main guys were in foul trouble and some guys aren’t ready to do the things they need to do.”
Michael Snaer hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer, marking the Seminoles’ first lead since the first half.
“The last shot just happens,” Brownell said. “He missed it by three feet and it banked in and they won.”
Clemson falls to 10-8 overall and 2-4 in league play, while FSU improves to 11-7, 3-2.
Clemson appeared to be in complete control of the game until Devin Booker drew his fourth foul with 9:26 to play. The Tigers, who led by as many as 11 in the period, held a 44-34 edge at that point but the ‘Noles began chipping away.
Clemson went cold and FSU heated up, and a 10-0 run by the home team knotted the scored at 44-all with 6:31 remaining.
The battle stayed close from then on out although Florida State could never take the lead until the clock hit double zeroes.
Jordan Roper gave the Tigers a three point edge 57 seconds from the finish with his first field goal of the night, but Devon Bookert tied it with a 3-pointer with 44 seconds remaining, making it 57-57.
“The last (sequence) we looked like a team that didn’t have a player who wanted to make a play,” Brownell said.
The Seminoles got the ball with eight seconds left when Snaer nailed a rainbow as time expired to save the day for the hosts and ruin the night for the Tigers.
Bookert had 15 points and two blocked shots for the Tigers while K.J. McDaniels chipped in 15 points and six rebounds.
Kiel Turpin led Florida State with 16 points, followed by Snaer (11), Bookert (11), and Okaro White.
Clemson’s recipe for success in 2012-13 has been defense but in the first half it was offense that got Florida State’s attention – and gave the Tigers a big lead.
After Aaron Thomas hit a 3-pointer to give Florida State a 16-13 lead with 7:38 remaining in the opening period the Seminoles wouldn’t score again until the 1:23 mark.
Meanwhile Clemson reeled off 16 unanswered points, turning a three point deficit into a 29-16 lead.
FSU battled back just before intermission and cut Clemson’s advantage to 29-21, but the Tigers’ 52.2 percent shooting clip - and Booker’s 11 points - had the visitors in charge on the road.
They stayed in charge until 9:26 to go, and then things fell apart.
Clemson returns to action Sunday when Virginia Tech comes to Littlejohn Coliseum for a 1 p.m. tip. The game can also be seen on WLOS.