Florida State went cold in the second half. And in the final seconds an inadvertent whistle cost the Seminoles a basket.
Al-Amir Dawes’ layup with one second left helped Clemson pull off a seemingly unfathomable feat – home wins over top-15 ACC powers Duke, Louisville and FSU – with the latest being a 70-69 win over the Seminoles on Saturday.
Devin Vassell scored 14 points and Trent Forrest had nine second-half points for the Seminoles (24-5, 14-4 ACC).
The Seminoles led 39-32 at the half but were off the mark to open the second half, starting 1 for 10. That allowed Clemson to claw back into the game and the Tigers went ahead on a Tevin Mack 3-pointer with 1:43 to go.
Forrest had six points in the final 1:21 of the game but he was also poised to score on a breakaway after a Clemson turnover on an out-of-bounds save, but a whistle halted play. That took what likely would have been two easy points off the board, although Forrest did generate a layup on the ensuing possession after a lengthy review by the three-man officiating crew.
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton downplayed the impact of the referee’s whistle.
“What hurt us again was having the courage to let them go the length of the floor for the winning basket,” Hamilton said of Dawes’ layup.
John Newman III and Dawes each had 18 points for the Tigers (15-13, 9-9).
FSU shot 25 of 50 from the floor but was just 9 of 24 (37.5 percent) in the second half. The Seminoles, typically a consistently good free-throw shooting team, made just 11 of 18 shots from the line (61.1 percent).