'Noles hold off Tigers in wild one

Xavier Rathan-Mayes piled up a bunch of points again for Florida State. The Seminoles needed just about all of them.

The high-scoring freshman had 30 points and Florida State held on for a wild 76-73 win over Clemson on Wednesday in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

Montay Brandon added 17 points for the ninth-seeded Seminoles (17-15), who blew almost all of a 20-point lead with 9 minutes to play before escaping. They will play No. 3 and top-seeded Virginia (28-2) Thursday in the quarterfinals.

"I'm not going to be concerned" about the near-collapse, coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I'm just glad we won and move on. That's the way the game of basketball is, it's a chess match."

Rod Hall had a career-high 25 points for the eighth-seeded Tigers (16-15), who pulled to 75-73 on Hall's free throws with 25.2 seconds left, then got the ball back after Florida State threw the inbounds pass away.

Hall drove the lane and put up a jumper that hung on the rim but refused to drop.

"The ball rolled the opposite way that I wanted it to," Hall said. "It just didn't fall."

Clemson fouled Phil Cofer, who put the Seminoles up three with a free throw with 9.5 seconds left.

The Tigers worked the ball to Gabe DeVoe, whose deep 3-pointer from the wing with about 3 seconds left bounced off the iron.

"Everybody knows you need 3. It's hard to get a great 3," coach Brad Brownell said. "It was a deep shot, but he can make those. It just didn't go in."

Jaron Blossomgame missed on a put-back attempt at the buzzer for the Tigers. He finished with 14 points and DeVoe added 10 for Clemson, which has lost three straight and five of six.

The Tigers sure seemed on their way to a lopsided loss, trailing by 13 with less than 2 minutes to play before staging an unlikely rally.

The Tigers — who to that point were 4 of 14 from 3-point range — hit three 3s in a minute to pull within five, then took advantage of a weird play to make it a one-possession game.

Cofer slipped on his backside while inbounding the ball, and it trickled out of his hands and across the end line to Blossomgame, whose gift layup with 30.8 seconds left made it 74-71.

Rathan-Mayes countered with a free throw before Hall's two big foul shots made it a two-point game.

Then came more trouble inbounding the ball for Florida State — the pass bounced off Devon Bookert's hands and face before going out of bounds to give the Tigers their last, best chance.

"As the pressure got on," Hamilton said, "our guys cut slower as opposed to faster."

Cofer finished with 10 points for the Seminoles, who certainly seemed on their way to an easy win after building that big lead. Rathan-Mayes banked in a jumper that put Florida State up 57-37 with just over 9 minutes left.

STAR WATCH
Rathan-Mayes finished with his third 30-point game of the season, hitting 11 of 19 shots with five 3s. He credited his big day to "knocking down shots early and my teammates kept encouraging me to keep being aggressive." Added Brownell: "He's done that to a bunch of teams and I guess it was our turn today."

TIP-INS
Florida State: Hamilton moved into a tie with J.K. Kennedy at 236 wins with the school — the most in program history. "Our goal isn't just to win basketball games, but to build a program of significance," Hamilton said. "We want to be among the elite programs in our league. We have a lot more work to do."

Clemson: The Tigers have won only two ACC tournament games since 2009.

UP NEXT
Florida State: Plays No. 3 Virginia on Thursday in the ACC quarterfinals.

Clemson: Awaits possible NIT berth.

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