CLEMSON, S.C. — With the hot hand out of halftime, Clemson outscored No. 18 Florida State 48-33 in the second half and picked up a 77-67 win in its home opener of conference play on Tuesday. The Tigers trailed by five points at the intermission, but Al-Amir Dawes and Nick Honor came alive following the break and commandeered a come-from-behind triumph over the Seminoles at Littlejohn Coliseum.
For the game, Clemson (7-1, 1-1) shot 36.5 percent from the floor, including an impressive 50.0-percent shooting performance in the second half. Florida State (5-2, 1-1) made 41.9 percent of its field goals, including nine 3-pointers. The Tigers connected on seven shots from beyond the arc and outrebounded the Seminoles 49-35. Clemson pulled down 19 offensive boards and scored 14 second-chance points. Also of note, the Tigers knocked down 24-of-33 free throws and registered 29 points off the bench and 26 points in the paint.
Clyde Trapp led all scorers with 15 points to go along with his six rebounds and three assists. He shot 4-of-10 from the field and 6-of-8 at the charity stripe. Dawes and Honor scored all of their points in the second half, with Dawes attaining 11 points and Honor amassing 13 points. Dawes made a trio of 3-pointers, and Honor, who made five free throws, drained a pair of threes. Aamir Simms scored eight points and corralled a game-high 11 rebounds. Jonathan Baehre and Chase Hunter chipped in eight points apiece, with Baehre also garnering seven boards. Florida State’s Scottie Barnes shot 6-for-10 from the floor and scored a team-best 14 points.
Trapp set the tone early on with a thunderous dunk made possible by a perfectly executed bounce pass from Simms. Trapp’s slam served as the first basket of the game, putting the Tigers up 2-0 in a highly competitive first half. Trapp went on to net a 3-pointer that knotted the score at 14-14. Similarly, Alex Hemenway drained a game-tying three to make it 21-all after receiving a handoff from Simms. Florida State gained some breathing room after that and went on to lead 34-29 at halftime.
Dawes tabbed the Tigers’ first points of the second half with a three-ball. Soon afterward, he swished a pull-up jumper to give Clemson the lead at 37-36. The ACC rivals traded baskets for a while, with Dawes helping the Tigers keep pace with the Seminoles by knocking down a triple that placed Clemson ahead 42-40. A 3-pointer by Honor provided the Tigers with a 57-54 advantage at the 7:01 mark and marked the beginning of a 12-3 Clemson run. The 12-3 surge was capped off by a Dawes trey with 5:11 left in the contest. Florida State cut into its deficit, but Honor flipped the momentum back in Clemson’s favor with a 3-point play featuring a hard-fought layup out of the fast break. Honor put Clemson up by nine points via a corner three at the 2:39 mark, and Clemson proceeded to earn a 77-67 victory.
Clemson will next take the floor in 2021 for a matchup against Miami (4-3, 0-2) on Saturday, Jan. 2. The Tigers and the Hurricanes will face off at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla., with the contest tipping off at 2 p.m. and airing on a regional sports network (RSN).
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Head Coach Brad Brownell
Opening statement:“In the second half, we played about as well as we could play. We made shots, and we made one or two small adjustments at halftime that helped. There was wearying effect to our defense. We attacked in transition and pressed. We got defensive rebounds and got out ahead of Florida State. We played downhill as much as possible, and it worked today.”
On Clemson’s in-game adjustments:“Early in the game, both teams guarded the heck out of each other, and it was hard to score. Both teams came ready to compete. The game settled down a little bit, and, out of halftime, we did a better job of tilting the floor and playing ahead of their defense. We were able to drive and make plays.”
On the keys to the game:“Defensively, we did a really good job of keeping Florida State in front of us. Our players’ relentless effort on the offensive boards was fantastic. That was a huge factor in the game. We also had great play off the bench. Our guys played really well and gave us huge effort and energy, and we wore [Florida State] down late in the game.”
On the Tigers’ top performers:“Nick’s [Honor] pace of play is outstanding, and so is his ability to push. We have tremendous confidence in him as a player. You’ve got to trust that he’s going to get going and start making shots. Al [-Amir Dawes] and Clyde [Trapp] gave us great energy on both ends of the floor and played really well.”
On the atmosphere inside Littlejohn Coliseum:“There was a lot of buzz. It felt like a big game. There’s no doubt it had an impact on the game. Our guys were juiced up, and it had a really good feel. I thought our crowd was fantastic.”