Tigers Fall in Tallahassee

In nearly every Clemson loss, the reasons repeat themselves like a broken record. The defeat can usually be blamed on either poor free throw shooting or bad three-point shooting. This one was no different.

On a night when the Tigers actually shot a respectable percentage from the charity stripe, their outside shooting, particularly from beyond the arc, was once again poor.

Combine that with the exceptional free throw shooting by Florida State and it adds up to a 69-59 Seminoles victory Wednesday night at the Tucker Center.

Clemson was a brutal 4-of-21 from three-point range, while the Seminoles were out of their minds from the free throw line, converting 29-of-35 attempts. At one point, they were 19-of-22. Florida State entered the game shooting 68.1 percent from the free throw line.

"We fought really hard," Tigers coach Oliver Purnell, whose team drops to 14-7 overall and 3-5 in the ACC. "I thought defensively we were pretty good tonight. Our inept offense, particularly our press offense, let us down."

The shooting from the free throw line by the Seminoles (13-5 overall, 4-4 ACC) compensated for their lack of three-point shooting, where they finished 0-for-9. It was the first time since the 1997-98 season (254 games) that they haven't made a three-pointer.

"I thought we defended really well," Purnell said. "But our offense was undisciplined in that we'd take one or two passes in the backcourt and shoot."

It always seems to come back to the offense for Clemson.

The Tigers actually made 13-of-18 free throws, which averages out to 72 percent. That's a far cry from the 58 percent they entered the game with. Center Akin Akingbala was the main reason why as he went 7-of-8 from the line to with 13 points.

"We continue to work on it," Purnell said of the free throw shooting. "We feel confident that we can step up and make some. I would have liked to get to the line a little more tonight."

No, what cost Clemson besides its three-point shooting was the 20 turnovers it committed. The Seminoles had 20 as well, but they scored 22 points off of the Tigers' miscues. Clemson managed just 12 points off of turnovers.

"It really cost us," Purnell said. "They got an awful lot of points off turnovers. And with a game that's tied with eight to play, that's big."

Indeed it was.

Clemson point guard Vernon Hamilton had six turnovers, while forward Julius Powell had four.

With the score tied at 49-49 with 8:22 remaining, the Seminoles went on a 14-0 run over the next four minutes to grab a 63-49 lead with 4:26 left to play.

Out of gas, the Tigers never got closer than eight the rest of the way to give them their second consecutive conference loss and prevent them from going 4-4 in the ACC, which the haven't done since the 1996-97 season.

"I don't think we were flat, but we ran out of juice a couple of times," Purnell said. "We couldn't stop it anymore with six to play, so we were just hanging on."

Up next is a trip to a place Clemson has never won, North Carolina. The Tigers are 0-51 in Chapel Hill.

"I can only answer for two of them," Purnell said. "I look at it realistically and right now we need a win in the worst way because you want to stay out of losing streaks in this league and that's the way we're going to approach it. I think we ought to be awfully motivated to go up there and win coming off a tough loss here and a tough one against N.C. State."

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