Poor shooting manifested itself where FSU shot just 32% from the floor in the first half compared to 52% for the Tigers. And of course Michael Snaer had to be the focus of fan's consternation because once again the senior was non existent having scored just two points in the first period.
And where was that junkyard defense? After taking a 16-13 lead on Aaron Thomas' three, the only three of the half in six attempts, Clemson went on a 16-0 (not coincidentally when Okaro White took the bench with two fouls) to move out to a 29-13 advantage.
The Seminoles managed to get below that psychological double digit barrier, closing the half time score to 29-21.
The frustration of fans watching the game probably grew even more after the 'Noles got down by twelve in the second half and shots were still not falling.
Hopefully no one turned the game off because Leonard Hamilton's teams have a way of making things interesting just when you think they are dead and buried. A shot here and there starts to fall, defensive stops occur and next thing you know FSU trailed just 44-40.
But Clemson managed to hold onto the narrow lead. Snaer's runner made it 55-54, only to have Jordan Roper work himself open into the right corner off a screen (amazing how that was not called a moving screen considering the number of illegal screens FSU has racked up the past couple of games) for the two point jump shot.
Credit Devon Booker though for fighting hard enough to force Roper off the three point line to make it a two point shot. It would prove to be crucial.
Credit Booker even more when the freshman canned a three moments later to tie the score at 57 all. And then there was Michael Snaer on that play; that would be the same Michael Snaer who FSU fans complained how he can't shoot worth a damn. Maybe, maybe not. It was Snaer who drew Booker's defender to him allowing Devon to have a clean look at that rim.
In fact, the ability of the entire Florida State team to find the right player, who was either open or in a clear mismatch against his defender, was a huge factor in the offensive turnaround in the second half.
I asked earlier where that junkyard defense had gone. It showed up in the last 43 seconds (really it showed up in the entire second half in reversing the shooting percentage to 32% for Clemson while FSU shot 52% in the final twenty).
Clemson tried to get a shot off and instead was pushed farther and farther away from the basket, to the point where KJ McDaniels had to take a three pointer from well behind the arc, resulting in an air ball and a shot clock violation.
Still think Snaer can't shoot?
Eight seconds on the game clock. The ball is inbounded to Snaer. He dribbles up the floor. If Clemson was trying to foul him they sure did a bad job of it or the refs let it go as Michael was knocked off balance as he approached the time line. He crosses the time line and moves to the right wing. Fans had to be screaming, "TAKE THE SHOT" before the horn sounded.
As he has done before, Snaer squared up and elevated, REALLY elevated, towering high above the two Clemson defenders, calmly banking in a lengthy three pointer as the buzzer sounded.
Florida State 60, Clemson 57.
It was the third time in two seasons Snaer has made the game winner at the buzzer as he was mobbed by his teammates at the far end of the floor. Say what you want about how he far too often starts slowly, but he certainly has a flair for the dramatic ending.
Despite the horrid game against Virginia, where fans (and I am sure the team as well) had to be asking what the heck is going on, somehow, some way Hamilton's team pulled out another win.
And a necessary one at that in staying in touch with the ACC leaders as the Seminoles improved to 11-7, 3-2 on the season.
More importantly it was a confidence builder after the two consecutive disappointing losses, and as FSU prepares to take on conference leader Miami on Sunday at 6 PM.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the performances of Kiel Turpin, who played far more minutes than he is used to in scoring 16 points. Certainly Booker's illness wore him down in the second half with the forward/center scoring just four of his fifteen points in the second period. But it wasn't just Turpin's scoring. It was his hustle on the defensive end and the boards, as well as garnering four boards and four blocked shots. There were a couple of times he kept the ball alive to allow a teammate to grab the rebound.
Also Bookert returned to earlier season form in scoring 11 points, along with handling the offense effectively. He didn't rack up the assists, just two, but he only had one turnover in 20 minutes on the floor.
Snaer tied Bookert with 11 points and White added 10.
As frustrated as fans may get with the play of the team, and believe me I do as well sometimes, you can never count this team out to come away with a win when you might think the game is over.