Florida State will spend at least another day in Greensboro.
Junior forward Okaro White scored a career-high 24 points and, after a first 20 minutes every bit as sloppy and uninspired as any this season, the Seminoles pulled ahead in the second half, then held on during a wild finish for a 73-69 victory over the Clemson Tigers in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
FSU, the tournament's sixth seed, will face No. 4-seed North Carolina Friday at approximately 9:30 p.m.
“The second half, I thought we executed much better,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton. “I thought our defense got the stops we needed, the rebounds we had. I thought we played excellent basketball there until about the last two minutes of the game.”
On another night, the Seminoles might not have survived an ending like that one that took place Thursday.
FSU led by as much as 14 in the second half and held an eight-point advantage with less then a minute to play.
Then, things got a little bizarre. And it wasn't until Michael Snaer's two free throws with seven seconds to play that Florida State could finally exhale.
After Terrance Shannon, who scored 12 points off the bench, pulled down a defensive rebound, his elbow caught Clemson's Milton Jennings' face while Jennings was trying to foul.
Instead, Shannon was called for a flagrant foul, giving the Tigers two free throws and the ball.
Jennings made just one free throw attempt, but Clemson wasn't done. After the Tigers pulled down an offensive rebound, Ian Miller fouled Jordan Roper on a 3-point attempt, sending Roper to the line with a chance to cut the lead to four.
Roper, though, made just one of his free throw attempts, and freshman Devon Bookert went to the free throw line with 30 seconds to go.
He made one of two, stretching FSU's advantage to 69-63, but Harris came back down the floor and made it a one-possession game on a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining.
After a pair of Snaer free throws, the Tigers made yet another 3, this one from Devin Booker that made it 71-69 with 13 seconds to go.
But with the threat of a collapse looming, Snaer received the in-bounds pass, weaved his way through Clemson's foul attempts and shaved six seconds off the clock before eventually drawing a whistle.
His two free throws finally sealed the game for good.
“It was like we were trying to invent ways to give the game back to Clemson,” Hamilton said. “Just thank goodness that they didn't take it.”
Michael Snaer's late free throws helped FSU hold on against Clemson.
To keep their NCAA tournament dream alive, the Seminoles will have to topple a North Carolina team that swept the season series and beat them 79-58 less than two weeks ago in Chapel Hill.
“We're going to play within ourselves,” Hamilton said. “If you have an opportunity to run, you run. If it's not there, you can run our half-court offense. That's the way we always play.
“We're not going to change. North Carolina's not going to change.”
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