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Clemson holds off late rally to beat Florida State

The Tigers notched their third conference road win with a 62-56 victory in Tallahassee.

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson needed four straight made free throws in the final 25 seconds to hold off a furious Florida State comeback and seal a much-needed 62-56 ACC road win.

The Tigers (14-8, 6-4 ACC) seemed to have shook the free throw woes that cost them in a home loss to the Seminoles two weeks ago as they calmly knocked down 14 of their first 17 attempts. But when Florida State (12-11, 4-6 ACC) began to foul in the final minutes, Clemson missed 7 of its next 8 — including four straight misses by Jaron Blossomgame — before Josh Smith and Jordan Roper each hit a pair to stave off the collapse.

Clemson struggled offensively for much of the first half and missed several shots around the basket. The Tigers were buoyed early on by Austin Ajukwa, who set his career high in a five-minute stretch of play and led all scorers with seven points at halftime.

The Tigers trailed 21-17 at the four-minute media timeout, but they finished the half on a 10-0 run which included six points from Jordan Roper, who hadn't scored to that point.

Florida State struggled even more so to score in the first half, with the duo of Montay Brandon and Jarquez Smith combining to go just 1 of 9 from the field. Clemson forced nine turnovers in the first half and scored nine points as a result.

Clemson maintained its lead by at least four points before stretching it to 10 on Donte Grantham's layup with 4:32 remaining in the game. The Tigers still led by nine at 57-48 with 1:34 left after Blossomgame hit 3 of 4 from the stripe. Florida State then went on an 8-1 run during Clemson's free-throw slump to close the deficit to just two points.

Blossomgame led the Tigers with 14 points and added seven rebounds. Roper and Grantham each chipped in 13 points, and Josh Smith played perhaps the best game of his career with eight points, eight rebounds and three steals in 19 minutes in relief of Landry Nnoko, who fouled out in just seven minutes of court time.

Clemson shot just 40.4% from the floor but held the Seminoles to 35.7%. The Tigers were 38.5% from beyond the arc.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes led the way for the Seminoles with 15 points but was just 5 of 13 from the field and shot an uncharacteristicly bad 3 for 8 from the free-throw line. Boris Bojanovsky posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Clemson has now won four straight ACC games for the first time in 18 years.