Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday night’s ACC Tournament game between Florida State and Clemson.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Epic Almost-Collapse: Florida State had a 13-point lead with two minutes to play. Two turnovers, a missed dunk, a flagrant foul and a fouled three-point shooter later, the Seminoles were lucky to have a six-point lead (Clemson missed four field goals over that stretch). The Tigers proceeded to hit two unbelievable threes to cut the lead to two with 13 seconds to play, but Michael Snaer iced the game with four straight free throws to close it out. But Florida State looked flummoxed the last two minutes. It didn’t help that a couple of close calls went the other way, but the team lost its poise. After the game, Leonard Hamilton said, “It was like we were trying to invent ways to give the game back to Clemson.” In the end, Florida State hit more free throws and won, but it shouldn’t have been that close.
- Terrance Shannon makes Florida State a different team: Much of this year, Florida State has been muscled around inside by ACC opponents. With a young front line — only made younger by Terrance Shannon‘s injury — it wasn’t that the Seminoles were soft. They just didn’t play smart. They often got out of position and gave up easy buckets uncharacteristic of Hamilton’s system. But Shannon provides a spark of strength and experience that really turned the tables in the second half. He’ll be critical to the Seminoles’s chances against North Carolina tomorrow. So far the Tar Heels have struggled with big, physical teams and Shannon fits the description to a T.
- Clemson free throws: Clemson shot a smooth 19-of-31 from the free throw line (61.3%). The team missed four free throws in the final two minutes that would have made it even closer than it was. In the past 10 years, Clemson has only finished in the top 200 of Division I in free throw shooting twice. The only time the Tigers ended up in the top half was Brad Brownell’s first season. You want a big reason for Clemson’s rep as a team that chokes? Don’t look further than 15 feet.
Star of the Game: Okaro White played like a man possessed tonight. He was everywhere for Florida State. He knocked down jumpers when Clemson let him, or he used the threat of a jump shot to get into the lane. He had several strong moves in the paint. After all was said and done he finished 8-of-11 from the field, good for 24 points in 39 minutes. You may not be familiar with Hamilton’s system, but it’s not every day someone plays essentially the whole game (he played 12 guys against Clemson). Snaer was the only other player to log 39 minutes, which highlights the two most important players for this squad.