Clemson-Florida St. Preview


Florida State has already wrapped up a high seed for the ACC tournament, but the 22nd-ranked Seminoles would surely like to end the regular season with a win.

They can do that and match the most successful ACC regular season in their history Sunday when they host Clemson, which handed Florida State its most lopsided defeat of 2011-12 thus far.

Florida State (20-9, 11-4) has locked up the third seed for the conference tournament but hasn't played its best lately, dropping consecutive games for the first time in ACC play last week.

Sophomore reserve Ian Miller helped the Seminoles avoid a three-game skid Thursday, matching a career high with 18 points and hitting a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to give his team a 63-60 win at No. 24 Virginia. The victory left the Seminoles one win shy of matching their school-best 12 ACC wins in 1992-93, their second season in the conference.

To match that mark, Florida State will need to play better than in their Jan. 7 visit to Clemson.

Miller scored a team-best 16 points in that game, but the Seminoles endured their second-worst shooting performance of the season (35.5 percent) en route to a 79-59 defeat that also represented the second-most points they've allowed in 2011-12.

Florida State followed that loss with a school-record seven consecutive ACC wins.

"We know what (Clemson is) capable of," guard Deividas Dulkys told the school's official website. "They are a very good team. Right now, they're 8-7 in the conference and going to look to beat us to get a chance. We are going to be focused. We are going to be energized. We are going to be ready."

Clemson (16-13, 8-7) enters this game having won a season-high three in a row and five of six. After needing overtime to top NC State on Feb. 25, the Tigers edged Virginia Tech 58-56 on Thursday.

Tanner Smith had a team-best 14 points against the Hokies, but defense again held the key for the Tigers, who have limited opponents to an average of 57.0 points over the last six games.

"It's because of the way we work and the way we practice every day and how hard these guys go at it that we've improved," coach Brad Brownell said. "We're a better team in February than we were in November and December. We're markedly better. We've had 25 or 30 games and a bunch of good practices. Things have come our way a little bit."

Brownell's team is giving up the second-fewest points per game in ACC play (61.8) with Florida State ranking third at 62.9.

The Tigers have done a better job containing Florida State lately, allowing an average of 59.0 points and limiting the Seminoles to 37.7 percent shooting while winning four of the last five meetings.

Florida State's lone win in that stretch came Dec. 12, 2010, the last time these schools met in Tallahassee. Dulkys, one of six Seminoles seniors who will be honored Sunday, had a team-best 17 points in that 75-69 victory.