TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Getting back to his strengths allowed Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon to have his best game in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
The freshman scored 21 points and had six rebounds in a 76-65 win over Clemson on Saturday. The Seminoles (14-7, 4-5 ACC) have won four of their past six after dropping their first three in conference, including a nine-point loss to the Tigers on Jan. 2.
“Getting to the basket is my game and I have to stick to it,” Bacon said. “I didn’t want to force any shots. I’ve been forcing 3-pointers lately. I wanted to get to the rim and attack.”
On a day when fans got free bacon upon entering the Tucker Center, the 6-foot-7 guard was sizzling early. He had 15 points in the first half and was 6 of 10 from the field as Florida State did a good job of attacking Clemson’s zone defense. In the first game, the Seminoles were expecting the Tigers to play man and struggled.
In the first game, Bacon scored just 10 points and was 5 of 16 from the field. It is the eighth time this season Bacon has scored 20 or more in a game but the first since he had 24 in a win over Florida on Dec. 29.
“When he gets it within 15-16 feet he’s a handful to handle and we got him in those spots that he was able to operate,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.
Bacon’s 15 points in the first half tied a season high. He also had 15 in a Nov. 23 win over Ohio at the Paradise Jam.
Malik Beasley added 16 points and Xavier Rathan-Mayes 10 for the Seminoles.
Jaron Blossomgame had 22 points and seven rebounds for Clemson (13-8, 6-3 ACC), which has dropped two its last three after winning five straight. Jordan Roper added 10 points and seven rebounds.
“They played very well today. We played just ok,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “A lot of that was just because of the way they played. We had a couple guys on our team just not play very well today.”
Clemson: Blossomgame has scored 20 or more points in four straight games. He is the first Tigers’ player to have four straight 20-point games in ACC play since Edward Scott in 2003. … Landry Nnoko, who had averaged 11.0 points over the past six games, was in foul trouble and held to four points.
Florida State: Bookert, who leads the ACC in 3-point percentage, has hit a 3-pointer in 10 straight games and is 25 of 47 from beyond the arc during that span. … Beasley, who is the leading scorer in the ACC, has scored in double figures in all 21 games and is averaging 19.3 points in the past six games.
Florida State led most of the game and was up 32-28 at halftime. But Clemson clawed back in the second half and took a 41-39 lead on a Sidy Djitte tip-in. The Seminoles would regain control with a 9-3 run that included consecutive 3-pointers by Beasley and Benji Bell. Florida State’s largest lead was 60-48 with 6:14 remaining.
The Seminoles shot 58.3 from the field in the second half (14 of 24), which is the best an opponent has shot against Clemson this season. The Tigers were a season-worst 29.4 percent from the field in the second half (10 of 34).
MILESTONE FOR HAMILTON
The win is Leonard Hamilton’s 250th in 14 seasons at Florida State and the 450th of his collegiate career. Hamilton, who is the winningest coach in Florida State and Miami history, needs 15 wins to surpass Frank McGuire (North Carolina and South Carolina) to move into ninth in ACC history.
Clemson: Travels to Wake Forest on Tuesday.
Florida State: Hosts North Carolina State on Monday
Follow Joe Reedy at twitter.com/joereedy. His work can be found at https://collegebasketball.ap.org/journalist/joe-reedy
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