Previewing Florida State

CLEMSON - Tight, in your face pressure made life miserable for Florida State during last year's trip to Clemson.

WHAT: Florida State at Clemson
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 7 (4:10 p.m.)
SPREAD: N/A
TV: ESPN2 (Mike Patrick, Len Elmore)

In the late-January showdown, the Tigers forced 22 turnovers, half of which were steals.

Last season, Demontez Stitt was the team's best on-ball defender while walk-on Zavier Anderson made a living off of jamming the opposing team's ball handler for 94-feet.

They combined for six steals last year's 62-44 victory over the Seminoles.

"I don't think people realize that kind of asset that we had last year," Tanner Smith said. "We still jam and pick up the ball as much as we can, but when you have guys like Zay and Demontez, their lateral quickness is unbelievable."

Brad Brownell said the Tigers' don't apply tight pressure as often as they did a season ago.

"This year's team, maybe not quite as good at that," he said. "As a result, we haven't knocked as many balls loose and been able to finish in transition, to be able to help our offense.

"Sometimes in college basketball that's what you need, especially against teams like Florida State that are really difficult to score against."

Heading into Saturday afternoon's 4:10 tipoff at Littlejohn Coliseum, opponents have averaged 60.6 points against Florida State. Clemson has held teams to 57.5

The Tigers also ranked 17th in the country in scoring defense while the Seminoles were tied for 52nd.

Both teams have played once since Jan. 1. And both held their respective opponents to under 60 points.

"I wouldn't say that either team is really offensive-minded," said Andre Young, who is tied for sixth in the ACC with 1.6 steals a game. "We're a defensive-minded team. [Florida State] like[s] to get blocks. They like denying initial passes and really try to pressure guys.

"It'll probably a defensive game, but it's just going to come down to whoever grinds the other out."

As of Jan. 1, Florida State ranked No. 8 in the country with 6.8 blocks per game and No. 33 with 8.8 steals per game.


Michael Snaer leads FSU in scoring at 13.6 points game. (Getty Images)
Guard Dividas Dulkys is tied for second among ACC defenders with 1.8 steals per game. Forward Bernard James is tied for third ACC shot blockers with 2.6 per game. Front court mate Xavier Gibson is eighth with 1.7.

Against Auburn on Wednesday night, Florida State recorded 10 blocks and nine steals.

"Typical Florida State team, really athletic, tremendous shot blocking around the basket, very good defensively, one of the best in the country -- it will be a game where it's hard to score," Brownell said.

Devin Booker, who's coming off a career-high 22 points against East Tennessee State, is averaging 13 points over the last six games.

"I've got lot of momentum coming into this game," he said. "Florida State, I know they've got a lot of shot blockers. We're just going to have to use the fundamentals of the game, use our pump fakes and different aspects of the game, to help us come through with the victory."

A win would give Clemson a 1-0 start in ACC play.

"These 16 [ACC] games are pretty much the most important on our schedule," Young said. "It's a tough time. You're just going to have to grind it out, really. Whether it's a home game or an away game, guys are going to come ready to play."

PROBABLE STARTERS
Florida State (9-5)
G #3 Luke Loucks (6-5, 201) - 7.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG
G #4 Deividas Dulkys (6-5, 196) - 6.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG
G #21 Michael Snaer (6-5, 202) - 13.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG
F #1 Xavier Gibson (6-11, 248) - 8.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG
F #5 Bernard James (6-10, 240) - 9.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG

PROBABLE STARTERS Clemson (8-6)
G #1 T.J. Sapp (6-2, 180) - 5.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG
G #11 Andre Young (5-9, 170) - 12.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG
G #5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 210) - 10.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG
F #24 Milton Jennings (6-9, 225) - 8.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG
F #31 Devin Booker (6-8, 245) - 11.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG


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