Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an ACC Microsite writer and RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s ACC clash between Florida State and Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum.
On the first possession of its conference opener at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon, Florida State looked like the defending conference champions. The Seminoles forced a shot clock violation with its suffocating ball pressure and two blocks near the rim. That possession fueled their fire, as the Seminoles ran out to a double-figure lead behind great shooting — specifically from Okaro White (who made three early three-point field goals) and Ian Miller (who hit both of his shots from deep). At one point Michael Snaer singlehandedly forced a Clemson turnover in the backcourt. Clemson bounced back somewhat, but still trailed by 13 at the half.
The second half was a different story. The Seminoles looked entitled, not determined. Snaer allowed the officials to frustrate him and Clemson slowly but surely climbed back into the game. The Tigers forced some untimely turnovers, hit big shots and killed FSU on the boards. Luckily for (and probably thanks to) Florida State, Milton Jennings was horrible all game. He committed five turnovers, and made several crucial defensive mistakes down the stretch. FSU escaped with a 71-66 win, but a victory doesn’t disguise the fact that Florida State’s defense was undressed in the second half. They had no answer to Devin Booker once he got the ball. Booker finished 8-of-11 from the field for 19 points and 11 boards. He looked unstoppable and Florida State’s front line looked soft or uncoordinated depending on its personnel.
That said, Florida State has some positives to take away from this game. First and foremost, it survived in a hostile environment when the whistle was blowing the other way most of the afternoon. Also Snaer looked pedestrian on offense. White had a great first half, showing off his potential, before playing the role of wallflower for much of the second half. Long story short, the Seminoles have a long way to go and an uphill battle to fight before Selection Sunday — this team needs to get a lot better.