CLEMSON -- These Clemson Tigers are full of surprises.
Every time they're sent to the morgue, they crack the casket enough to allow a speck of light in. Coming off a two-game losing streak after whipping North Carolina 78-63 on Feb. 4, the Tigers limped into Littlejohn Coliseum to face Florida State.
The Seminoles were stunned by Clemson's hustle, smothering team defense and determination on Sunday. Clemson surprised FSU with a resounding 78-45 victory over the `Noles. The margin of victory is the second largest in Atlantic Coast Conference play for the Tigers.
Clemson (14-11, 3-9 ACC) shocked Florida State (12-12, 5-7) by coupling a fine-shooting performance with its requisite rebounding domination. The Tigers made 27 of 55 shots (49.1 percent), while the Seminoles hit a ghastly 17-of-56 (30.4 percent). FSU was out-rebounded 47-29.
That Terrell McIntyre would continually find himself open outside the 3-point arc is the greatest surprise. This is the same 5-foot-9 southpaw that has averaged 21 points in the last four games against the Seminoles.
"It was one of those days when I felt good when it left my hand," McIntyre said. "It kind of surprised me that I was wide open. I thought every time it left my hand it was going in."
McIntyre tied a career-high with 29 points by connecting on 7-of-13 3-point attempts against the Seminoles. The senior guard was a freshman the last time he accounted for 29 points, also at home against FSU.
Miserable free-throw shooting, no interior game and a reliance on perimeter shooting spelled doom for FSU. Harold Jamison's bucket at the 17:54 mark of the second half finished a 7-0 run for the Tigers and increased their lead to 46-17.
Florida State's half-court offense with its methodic ball movement was too slow to make a comeback. Seminoles coach Steve Robinson said his team's one-dimensional attack stood little chance against Clemson's domination on the boards.
"We settled for jump shots and didn't try to move the ball around," Robinson said. "When those shots didn't fall it made it more difficult. We were one shot and out."
The Seminoles made only six field goals in the first half and trailed the Tigers 39-17. McIntyre personally outscored FSU with 18 points at the intermission by hitting six of 10 shots.
Clemson has a history of shutting down FSU. The Tigers held the Seminoles to 17 first-half points on Feb. 15, 1998 in Tallahassee.
Florida State went on a 6:36 drought beginning at the 15:46 mark of the first half. The Tigers, who opened the game on an 8-0 run, extended their lead to 16-6 before a Ron Hale 3-pointer ended the Seminoles' drought.
Capitalizing on a trio of 3-pointers by McIntyre, the Tigers established a 25-9 advantage with 6:37 remaining in the opening stanza. Harold Jamison finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Tom Wideman added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Tigers.
Clemson coach Larry Shyatt has witnessed strong practices throughout the season but only became flustered when the team floundered in the final moments of close games. He said the Tigers channeled their workout habits into Sunday's victory.
"Once again they practiced and played like a team that wanted to prove something," Shyatt said. "They broke out of some slumps, especially defensively."
Florida State's interior players -- Hale, Mott and Anderson -- combined for only three points in the first half. The trio finished with 26 points, led by Anderson's 13.
The Tigers have four ACC games remaining and are jockeying for a higher seed in the conference tournament. Virginia's victory over N.C. State on Sunday prevented Clemson from pulling into a tie for last place. The Cavaliers (14-12, 4-9 ACC) visit Clemson on Wednesday.
Jimmy DeButts can be reached at 706-823-3221.
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