GAME NOTES: The first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament wraps up on Thursday night, as the 11th-seeded Clemson Tigers play the sixth-seeded Florida State Seminoles at Greensboro Coliseum.
The winner will advance to the quarterfinal round on Friday night to face third-seeded North Carolina.
Clemson (13-17) endured a very disappointing season, finishing its ACC slate at just 5-13. The Tigers played especially bad down the stretch, as they closed the regular season with six straight setbacks, including a 62-49 road loss at Miami-Florida last Saturday.
Florida State, which won this event a year ago, came into the 2012-13 season with high expectations, earning a preseason ranking in the AP Top-25, but it under-performed in going 17-14 overall and 9-9 in the ACC. The Seminoles are carrying a bit of momentum into the tournament however, having posted two straight wins, most recently capturing a 71-67 triumph against NC State last Saturday.
FSU won both contests versus Clemson this season, most recently claiming a 60-57 decision at home on Jan. 24, on one of Michael Snaer's four buzzer- beating game-winning buckets this season.
The Tigers were overmatched by first-place Miami in the regular-season finale, as they shot just 40 percent from the field (including 3-of-13 from 3-point range) and were outrebounded by a 35-21 margin in the 13-point setback. Jordan Roper (12 points) and Devin Booker (11 points) were the only players to net in double figures in the setback. Clemson can usually hang tough with opponents thanks to its outstanding defense, which ranks second in the ACC in allowing just 59.7 ppg, but its problem has been its inability to properly support itself at the offensive end, as it scores just 61.3 ppg on 42.5 percent from the field. Booker is one of the most physical forwards in the conference, pouring in 13.2 ppg on 54.6 percent from the field to go along with 7.6 rpg and 1.2 bpg. K.J. McDaniels (10.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg) and Milton Jennings (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg) are also strong in the paint.
After trailing by as many as eight points midway through the second half of its latest game, FSU fought back to capture an impressive four-point win over NC State by piecing together impressive performances from the field (23-of-50) and the foul line (22-of-29). Devon Bookert scored a career-high 18 points, while Snaer overcame five turnovers to finish with 17. On the season, the Seminoles have been underwhelming at both ends of the court, scoring a modest 67.0 ppg while yielding 68.0 ppg. It's difficult to imagine where the squad would be without Snaer (14.5 ppg), who came up in the clutch time and time again this season and earned Third Team All-ACC honors as a result. Okaro White has been a solid complement to Snaer on the inside with 12.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg.
Clemson clearly has the manpower to match up with FSU on the inside, but it has been playing its worst basketball of the season in recent weeks. On the other hand, the Seminoles tuned up for the tournament with an impressive stretch run, giving them the advantage to advance.
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