Florida State opened Atlantic Coast Conference play on Saturday with a 71-66 victory over Clemson. Okaro White led the Seminoles with 15 points and a crucial steal off an inbounds pass with 17 seconds remaining.
FSU led by as many as 16 points early in the second half but found their lead had dwindled to just three points with less than a minute remaining. That is when White stepped in front of an inbounds pass from the Tigers, stole it, and was fouled. He subsequently made both free throws helping to seal the victory.
For the Seminoles, who have battled inconsistency on the court all season, today's win at Clemson marked a move forward according to head coach Leonard Hamilton.
"It has been very difficult to come in here and play with the emotion I thought our guys played with today," Hamilton said. "It's been kind of an elusive mindset with our players. You can say it's because they're young and learning, but today, instead of looking like a team of seven first-year players, I thought we looked like a team. I was very proud of the effort that they gave."
Terry Whisnant and Terrance Shannon each scored 11 points apiece for the Seminoles. Shannon also had a team-high eight rebounds.
Michael Snaer, the ACC's third-leading scorer coming in, scored all eight of his points in the second half for Florida State. Hamilton credits the senior with leading in other ways on the court in Littlejohn Coliseum.
"Michael Snaer took just one shot in the first half. It says a lot about him. He was giving us tremendous leadership," Hamilton said. "It wasn't about him individually. It was about us as a team, and I think that says a lot about his unselfish spirit, just wanting to lead a team that's been kind of up-and-down and inconsistent to victory.
"This probably was his best game, and he didn't score in double figures," Hamilton added.
Ian Miller returned to action for the Seminoles after missing the past several weeks with a foot injury. He scored seven points in his return.
In the loss, Clemson's Devin Booker posted a double-double, with 19 points and 11 rebounds, to lead the Tigers. While Booker was able to fill the stat sheet, Leonard Hamilton praised his team's effort against the talented forward.
"We played our fannies off on Booker," Hamilton said. "Believe me, I was proud of the defensive effort that we gave. That just shows what kind of character he has and what kind of player he is. They do such a good job of getting him the ball in spots where he can be effective. He's just a world-class guy."
Florida State held a 38-25 lead at the half behind hot shooting from the Seminoles. Florida State was 15-for-30 (50%) from the field and 6-for-13 (46.2%) from deep in the opening half. They finished the game shooting 25-for-53 (47.2%) from the field and 10-for-23 (43.5%) from deep.
The Seminoles next hit the court on January 9th when they travel to Maryland. The game will be televised by ESPN3.
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