Taking care of business

The Tigers have greatly increased their chances of reaching their third consecutive NCAA Tournament.

Clemson wasn't exactly a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers appeared to be in pretty good shape before they went to Florida State.

But with a 53-50 victory on Sunday, they just might have sealed the deal.

The win over the Seminoles gave the Tigers a second road win in the ACC, boosted their conference record to 8-6, and gave them a 20th win against only eight losses.

They are a contender for one of the top four spots in the conference tournament as well, and with only two games left in the regular season can finish no worse than .500 in league play.

That's usually a strong enough resume to get an at-large bid to the national tourney.

With their comeback win, the Tigers swept the season series with the Seminoles, having won the first meeting just 18 days earlier on their home floor in Littlejohn Coliseum.

In that game, Clemson jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never trailed. This time the Tigers had to overcome a notoriously slow start.

They scored only 19 points in the first half but trailed by only two at the break as the Seminoles struggled offensively as well. The Tigers led early in the second half, fell back, and then closed back in on their hosts.

They took a two-point lead on Andre Young's 3-pointer with 30.8 seconds left and remained in front at 49-48 when FSU's Solomon Alabi missed the second of two free throws with 14 seconds left.

Trevor Booker hit a pair of free throws with 11.1 seconds left, then blocked Deividas Dulkys' 3-point attempt from the corner on the ensuing possession, retrieving the ball in mid-air to draw another foul.

Booker clinched the game with two more free throws to make it 53-48 with just 4.5 seconds left.


--Sophomore G Andre Young, at 5-9, is the smallest player on the Clemson roster but he is coming up big for the Tigers. Young hit a shot from midcourt at the halftime buzzer against Florida State to get the Tigers within two points, then hit a 3-pointer with 30.8 seconds left in the game to give the Tigers a 49-47 lead on their way to the 53-50 victory. In the last five games, all off the bench, Young has scored 56 points, handed out 14 assists, and come up with six steals. He is 15-of-35 on 3-pointers over that span.

--The Tigers have at least 20 victories for the fourth consecutive season. That's the longest such streak in school history. In fact, only once before (1979-80 and 1980-81) have the Tigers had even two consecutive 20-win seasons.

--F Trevor Booker registered his second consecutive double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Florida State. He has eight on the season. A 62-percent free throw shooter, Booker was 7-of-9 from the free throw line, making him 22 of 27 in his last four games.

--F Jerai Grant had only two points at Florida State after fouling out and going scoreless in the loss at Maryland. He had four fouls against the Seminoles.

LOOKING AHEAD TO GEORGIA TECH: Iman Shumpert hasn't always played up to his high school press clippings.

But as Georgia Tech (19-9, 7-7) makes its postseason push, the 6-5 sophomore is showing why he was a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school in the Chicago area.

Shumpert has put together two consecutive monster games. In a 73-68 home win over Boston College on Feb. 27, Shumpert made 10 of 16 field goals for 24 points and added five steals, three assists, three rebounds and a block. Six turnovers were the only blemish.

"When he's good, he's really good," coach Paul Hewitt said.

"The six turnovers, I thought at least four of them should have been shots by him. But he's unselfish to a fault. You'd rather have a guy who wants to get his teammates involved than a guy who is taking bad shots. He's got to remember that he's a classic big guard -- he can get into the paint, absorb a lot of contact, and still get a good shot off."

Talent has never been the issue. Shumpert has struggled knowing when to assert himself and when to defer. He's not a pure point guard, and sometimes gets in trouble by dribbling too much.

Lately he's been more decisive, more aggressive.

"Yes, it's that simple," Hewitt said. "I told him that the guy I saw in the last 10 minutes (against Boston College) is not allowed to leave until the season is over. Iman is the X-factor. He's 6-5, 215, can shoot the ball, has great quickness, and when he forces people to help, everybody gets easier shots."

The Yellow Jackets already know they can rely on the inside game of Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. If Shumpert retains his attacking mindset, Tech will be a tough out in the ACC tournament and, perhaps, in the NCAA tournament.

Georgia Tech travels to Clemson Tuesday night before closing the season at home against Virginia Tech this weekend.

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