GREENVILLE, S.C. Jordan Roper hit a career-high seven three-point goals to lead Clemson to its first ACC win of the season, 84-75 over Florida State in the Tigers' home opener at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Clemson moved to 8-6 on the season, 1-1 in league play. FSU fell to 10-3 overall, 0-1 in the ACC.
Roper posted 23 points to lead the Tigers to an impressive performance Saturday. Clemson's win was the program's first at home against Florida State since 2011-12, Brad Brownell's second season as head coach. Roper was 7-10 from three, eclipsing his previous best of six made threes set last season against Boston College. Clemson also got 15 points from Avry Holmes, a career-high 14 from Sidy Djitte, and 11 from Donte Grantham.
The Tigers shot 45 percent for the game, but made 10 three-point goals. Clemson was also solid at the free throw line, converting a season-best 24 on 33 attempts. Clemson finished the game with a positive 15-9 assist-turnover ratio as well.
Clemson jumped out to a 12-2 lead behind an efficient effort offensively. Grantham found an early three-ball, and assisted on two other jumpers. He finished with a game-high seven helpers. FSU answered with a 14-5 run punctuated by a trifecta from Devon Bookert. He helped give the ‘Noles their first lead with another wing three, followed by a three-point play from Xavier Rathan-Mayes that gave FSU a 25-23 edge.
Roper's big half continued, as the senior drained consecutive three-pointers sandwiched by a Nnoko jam to give the Tigers a 31-28 cushion. FSU pulled closer after Bookert's third triple of the half, but Clemson held a 35-33 lead at intermission.
Clemson got into a back and forth scoring affair in the second half with the ‘Noles. FSU heated up midway through the period, hitting six of eight shots at one point to pull within two at 52-50.
Still up four, Bookert converted a four-point play to knot the game at 54 going into the under-eight timeout.
Djitte, who provided great energy throughout the game, made a layup to push Clemson's edge to 60-56 and then dove on the ground to steal the ensuing entry pass from the Seminoles with 5:50 to play.
Roper and Holmes then delivered consecutive three balls, pushing the edge to 66-59. FSU never threatened again. Bookert finished with 21 points, making 6-9 from long distance, while freshman Malik Beasley led the way with 23.
The Tigers return to action Tuesday at Syracuse. The two teams square off in the Carrier Dome at 8 p.m.
Clemson defeated Florida State, 84-75, on Saturday. The win snapped a three-game losing skid at home to the Seminoles, and extended Clemson's advantage all-time in the series at home to 19-11.
Today's win was Brad Brownell's 98th at Clemson. With two more, he will be the fifth coach in Clemson history with 100 wins in his Tiger career.
Brownell is now 29-15 (.659) at home against ACC competition, the best winning percentage of any coach in Clemson history.
Clemson's 84 points were its most in an ACC win since scoring 87 against Georgia Tech in 2010-11, Brad Brownell's third career conference game.
The Tigers have hit double-digit three-pointers four times this season, with 10 today. Clemson had just one such game all of 2013-14.
Jordan Roper had a career-high seven three-point goals today. His previous best was six last season against Boston College.
Roper's seven threes matched an individual best under Brad Brownell. Andre Young made seven against Georgia Tech as a senior in 2011-12.
Roper scored a team-high 23 points. It was his second 20+ point outing of the season, and the fourth of his career.
Sidy Djitte posted a career-high 14 points and eight free throws. Earlier this week, he set a free throw best with seven at North Carolina.
In two games this week, Djitte was 15-18 at the free throw line after entering as a 48 percent career shooter.
Donte Grantham matched his career high with seven assists, which came last year in the ACC Tournament against Florida State.
Landry Nnoko blocked four shots today, giving him 34 on the season and 175 for his career. He needs just three to move past Sharrod Ford and K.J. McDaniels into seventh in Clemson's career records.
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
"Outstanding win for us; I thought our guys have really been focused since Christmas. We have done a really good job in preparation for both games; North Carolina and Florida State are both really talented teams. Florida State is probably an NCAA Tournament team, and I just really thought our guys were locked in. We had a quick turnaround, short preparation time and I thought our focus and energy level were both really great. Certainly, Jordan (Roper) making seven three-pointers was big, especially for our team. I thought we did a lot of things effectively, the zone was good for us today, we knew this was a game where we were going to play zone, quite a lot of zone actually. We thought we might would have played more against North Carolina but we didn't. Just a really good performance. We only turned it over nine times and had 15 assists and made our free throws. We played very, very well today."
On the run right after being tied at 54:
"Yea, we just had to convince our guys to keep playing, stay aggressive, we didn't want them to tighten up at all. Florida State made a couple of good adjustments offensively and started getting the ball in the high post a little more against our zone, and that started to become a little more of a problem. We just told our guys to stay with it, we liked the way the game was going, the rhythm and pace of the game, we liked the shots we were getting even when we weren't scoring. We just wanted to try to outlast them. They are a very talented group, a couple of their guys didn't play as well, certainly we knew (Devon) Bookert was a very good player. When you play some of these teams they just have so many guys that is hard to count for all of them. Sidy Djitte was outstanding, his energy level and toughness, his toughness to win 50-50 balls and get on the floor, to protect the paint that was really good. Also, his ability to make free throws was significant, so in all it was just a very a good performance by our team."
On what the win means for the Tigers going forward:
"It just hopefully gives the guys a little bit of confidence. The Alabama game hurt us a little in the confidence department, because we probably played a little better in some ways, some aspects of the game, than it showed. We just had a tough night shooting the ball and we were still in a position to win it there at the end, and I think that took a little wind out of our sails to be honest. So it was just good to gut one out in a tight game, one or two possession game, especially when they tied it as you mentioned. It could have gone either way, momentum was shifting towards them a little bit, and we still bounced back and made plays on both ends to win the game."
Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton
"I think you have to give Clemson a lot of credit this afternoon, because I thought they played with a lot more energy than we did. The disparity on the offensive boards, 15 offensive rebounds and 21 points on second chance opportunities shows you that they were a lot more energized. And they shot the ball extremely well. In the ACC, if you don't contest shots and make people miss, then they shot the ball like all ACC teams are going to shoot the ball. I thought the zone defense that they started with created a lot of indecision by our young guys, I thought it was a smart move on their part, we didn't execute very well against it like we have against some other teams. I think at the start of the ACC season, hopefully this will be a lesson for our guys to be a little more attentive and understand a little more of how you need to play at this level. I looked out there one time, and I think I saw four freshman out on the court and that is not a good formula in the ACC. On the other hand I thought we fought, but I just never thought that we executed with the level of energy that it takes to go on the road and beat a team that is very hungry for a victory, and very prepared and following their coaches' directions. That is what causes you to go on the road and not be successful."
On if a faster start was one of the lessons for his young team to learn:
"The interesting thing is that we have played against a lot of 2-3 zones, but we reverted back to not cutting hard, not ball faking, not penetrating and that happens a lot sometimes when you are dealing with as many new players as we are dealing with. That is what disappointed me the most, our lack of execution against their zone. We shot the ball fairly well, our cuts were just too slow and execution, lack of penetration, lack of shot fakes and ball fakes that we normally have when you are playing against the zone were not there. I thought they were more physical than we were inside. We were not posting up strong enough to occupy anybody, you have to give them credit, sometimes when you lose a game it is easy to say what you didn't do. But sometimes you just have to give the opposing team credit for doing a good job, and I think that is what happened today."