No. 18 Florida State faces overdue test at Clemson

·2 min read

It took 9 1/2 months, but Florida State and Clemson are ready to tipoff again.

The Seminoles and Tigers were on the court at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum last March for a showdown in the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament when the game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The teams will try again Tuesday night as Clemson hosts the second game of the Atlantic Coast Conference season for both squads.

Florida State (5-1, 1-0 ACC) is ranked No. 18, while Clemson (6-1, 0-1) has dropped from the polls after suffering its first loss of the season at Virginia Tech on Dec. 15.

"We've got great culture, great attitude," said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. "I think you'll see us keep growing and maturing, but we're still in developmental mode right now."

The Seminoles experienced a growing pain Dec. 19 when Central Florida rolled into town and handed Hamilton's team a 12-point loss -- the program's first at the Tucker Center since January 2018.

Florida State rebounded with a 72-59 win against Gardner-Webb but now faces a road game for the first time this season at Clemson.

"It's a dogfight," Hamilton said. "Seventy percent of ACC games are decided by four points or less."

Hamilton should know. His team was upset at Clemson last season, 70-69.

Coach Brad Brownell's Tigers are off to a solid start and boast more depth than at any point in Brownell's tenure. Clemson has 11 players averaging 10 or more minutes per game.

"It has been a good first part of the season," Brownell said. "We let one get away from us at Virginia Tech, but we're excited about where we are. Now we're trying to get recharged and ready to go in ACC play."

The Tigers have built their resume on defensive prowess. They are allowing only 54.4 points per game, which ranks them first in the ACC and seventh nationally. Clemson also is No. 1 in 3-point field-goal percentage defense in the ACC at 37.0.

Forward Aamir Simms leads Clemson in scoring (12.1 points per game) while guard Al-Amir Dawes is averaging 11.0 points. Nick Honor, a transfer guard from Fordham, has been a revelation, averaging 9.4 points and shooting 41.7 percent from three.

"Nick is just doing what Nick does -- he's a shot maker," Brownell said.

Guard M.J. Walker is the Seminoles' primary scoring threat; he's averaging 16.0 points per game and has made 92.1 percent of his free throws. Anthony Polite, Scottie Barnes and Balsa Koprivica also are averaging in double figures for Florida State.

"We'll keep scratching and clawing until we reach our potential," Hamilton said.

--Field Level Media