GREENSBORO, N.C. - Junior Okaro White had 17 of his career-high 24 points in the second half as Florida State came from behind to beat Clemson 73-69 in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro on Thursday night.
FSU (18-13) had a sloppy start to the game with nine first-half turnovers and a deficit reaching double digits. But the Seminoles stormed back, scoring 43 in the second half for the win.
Senior Michael Snaer made four free throws in the final 30 seconds to stave a Clemson rally and ice the win for the Seminoles, who advance to face No. 3-seed North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals at 9 p.m. ET on Friday night.
"In the first half, I thought we were overly anxious," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We didn't execute very well. We were very hyped up and were trying to thread the needle."
Clemson built a 30-20 lead late in the first half before Florida State rallied to cut the deficit to 35-30 at the break.
"We were very fortunate to only be down five at the half," Hamilton said.
Florida State went to White early in the second half to erase Clemson's lead. The junior scored eight of the Seminoles' first 10 points after halftime, including a put back and free throw with 14:25 remaining that gave Florida State their first lead (40-38) since the first minute of the game.
The Seminoles also benefitted from another veteran, Terrance Shannon. The junior big man suffered a neck injury at Virginia Jan. 19 and missed 13 of the last 14 games, save for a three-minute return to the court at North Carolina on March 3.
Shannon had 12 points, eight after halftime.
"Before the season, we wanted our productivity to come out of our big four," White said, referring to himself, and fellow returning veterans Shannon, Michael Snaer, and Ian Miller. "That got halted by a few injuries. It was good having guys we've been with for years out on the floor and trying to win the game for each other."
The Seminoles outscored Clemson 16-8 in the paint in the second half and built a 65-51 lead with three minutes remaining.
But Clemson wasn't quite finished.
In the final minutes, Devon Bookert and Miller fouled three-point shooters, Shannon was called for a flagrant foul, and White threw an ill-advised half-court inbounds pass that led to a turnover.
"We were trying to invent ways to give the game back to Clemson," Hamilton said. "Thank goodness they didn't take it.
"Unfortunately we'll be talking about that, and the last couple minutes will overshadow how will Okaro played and Terrance coming back."
Snaer hit those four late free throws-his first points of the second half-to ice the game. He finished with 10. The free throws were a welcome change from his usual last-second shooting heroics.
"It feels good that we had a big enough lead that we didn't need an amazing shot just to win the game," Snaer said. "I definitely didn't want it to come to that."
Friday's FSU-UNC game will be a rematch of last year's ACC Championship Game.