Florida State traveled to Clemson in early February hoping to improve its ACC record and further its NCAA Tournament resume, but left deflated with a 77-67 loss to the Tigers.
Since that demoralizing loss, the Seminoles have had three consecutive double-digit victories, two of which came on the road. The Seminoles (20-7, 8-5 ACC) get a chance to avenge the loss to the Tigers (19-8, 7-6 ACC) when they host Oliver Purnell's team on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
"We realize that they kind of took us to the woodshed last time we played them," Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I thought our players felt that we allowed their system to dominate us at times on the road."
The locker room following that loss at Clemson was an emotional scene for Seminole players and staff. Freshman guard Michael Snaer described what that atmosphere was like.
"I can't even explain it to you, it was just a feeling of defeat," Snaer said. "We felt that we shouldn't have lost the game and that we didn't give it all that we had."
Sophomore guard Luke Loucks also shed some light on the post-game scene from that night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"It was embrassing to get beat by that margin of points and in that way," Loucks said. "Coach really challenged us after that game to get it together and to start becoming men. After that game, that is when we really started changing things around."
"We learned a lot," Loucks added. "That is kind of the game where we came together afterwards and kind of got things going."
What were the main lessons from that loss?
"That we have to be at our very, very best whenever we play an ACC team or something bad will happen to you," Hamilton said. "You can't go on the road or at home for that matter and come out and not give your very, very best. I think there were times in the game where I thought we played very good basketball but you have to play 40 minutes with a high-level of concentration as well as effort if you are going to be successful and consistent with winning in the ACC."
The Seminoles hope that some of the lessons learned in that loss and in the subsequent games since, can be applied on the court Sunday evening in the rematch with Clemson.
"Our defense is something we can always rely on but the last time we played Clemson our defense wasn't there and they got a lot of good looks, especially on the perimeter, and penetration hurt us," Loucks said. "The last three games, we have had the mindset that we just have to be solid on defense and our offense will come. The system is there and we just need to trust what the coaches have put in front of us because the work they do in preparing for these teams is incredible and they know what is going to work and when it works. We just have to trust the system more."
"I think we are really focused and committed to the things our team is trying to do," Snaer added. "We are just making sure we come out and play defense first of all and not let our offense dictate how we play the rest of the game."
Hamilton is very pleased with the progress his team has made, but hopes it can pass yet another test on Sunday evening against the Tigers.
"Since that game, I think that we have refocused and we have made significant progress," Hamilton said. "Hopefully that will be reflected in how well we play on Sunday."