FSU basketball looks to settle score today against visiting Clemson
They remember all too well what happened the last time they played the Clemson Tigers.
The last two times, for that matter.
The Florida State men's basketball team has only lost three times in the past 11 months. And two of those losses were to Clemson, including a 77-67 defeat at Littlejohn Coliseum back in late December.
Now, the Seminoles -- who have won three in a row since that defeat -- hope to exact some revenge against their ACC rival this afternoon at the Tucker Center (3 p.m. ET, ABC).
"We know that the team we first were when we played them is not the same team we are now," said FSU forward Malik Osborne. "Even though it's been the span of (three) weeks, there's been major improvement. Not just in the mental focus but in the physical focus, being quicker to our spots, being quicker on our rotations, being quicker on our cuts on offense.
"We are not the same team we were a couple of weeks ago. And that's what we're going out to prove when we play Clemson again."
Since that loss to the Tigers, which was followed by 15 days off for COVID-19 contact tracing, the Seminoles (8-2, 4-1 in the ACC) have once again looked like one of the best teams in the conference. They blew out N.C. State in historic fashion, knocked off a North Carolina team that has won five of its last six games, and then dominated Louisville for most of 40 minutes in a 13-point victory on Monday.
Meanwhile, Clemson has struggled.
The Tigers (9-3, 3-3) had two come-from-behind wins to knock off Miami and N.C. State, and then got blown out by both Virginia and Georgia Tech, by a combined average margin of 26.5 points.
Not that anyone on the FSU team is about to take Clemson lightly.
That head-to-head loss was just a few weeks ago, after all.
"Clemson has played excellent basketball, just lights out at times," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "And they have had a couple of games, like what we have, when they haven't played very well.
"We are all going through those periods of development. A lot of it is because of the pause (during the summer and preseason), a lot of it is because some of the issues we're dealing with, and the lack of continuity that we've all become accustomed to over the years. ... I'm assuming Clemson is going through some of that, because they were absolutely excellent the night we played them."
In that game, Clemson scored 48 points in the second half. The Tigers were 24-of-33 from the free-throw line, while Florida State was 6-of-9. Clemson also out-rebounded FSU 49-35.
That game also marked the second straight win for the Tigers over the Seminoles. Last year, in late February, the Tigers knocked off FSU at Littlejohn with a buzzer-beater runner by guard Al-Amir Dawes.
Dawes had 11 points in the first meeting this year. Fellow guard Clyde Trapp led the Tigers with 15 points and three steals.
"They shot the ball well," Hamilton said. "They defended well. They out-played us. They out-executed us. They played harder than we did."