FSU pulls away late from Clemson as Tigers drop third straight game

Clemson coach Brad Brownell recaps loss to FSU

Tigers dropped third straight game
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Tigers dropped third straight game

Clemson trailed Florida State 66-53 with 6:18 remaining Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum, and the Tigers were coming out of a timeout looking to cut into FSU’s lead with a solid offensive possession.

Instead, the Tigers could not even get the ball in bounds and were whistled for a five-second violation, one of Clemson’s 11 turnovers in the eventual loss.

It was that kind of offensive night for the Tigers as Clemson seemed out of sync from start to finish in a 77-64 loss, Clemson’s third consecutive defeat.

The Tigers are now 15-11 (5-8) with five games remaining in the regular season. Clemson hosts Boston College Saturday at noon.

“Well, a tough night tonight. We just didn’t play as well as we’ve been playing in certain games. Certainly a lot of that is Florida State, they’re playing at a very good level,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “Physically they are hard to handle. They’re big and strong at every position from point guard to center.”

The game was back and forth early with Florida State clinging to a 23-21 lead with six minutes left in the first half before the Seminoles caught fire and Clemson couldn’t buy a basket. FSU ended the first half on a 15-2 run to take a 38-23 halftime lead.

Clemson made only 30 percent of its shots in the first half and had seven turnovers.

“I thought our kids tried. I thought we had energy. I thought we were ready,” Brownell said. “I thought we got demoralized in the first half when we couldn’t score. I thought that really took some juice out of our guys.”

Clemson’s deficit grew to as large as 18 points early in the second half on a dunk by Christ Koumadje before the Tigers started to rally.

Clemson pulled to within 59-52 with 8:09 left thanks to a 9-0 run but it was too little, too late. FSU quickly pushed its lead back to double digits and never looked back.

The Seminoles outscored Clemson 30-2 in bench points as a pair of free throws by Clyde Trapp was all Clemson’s reserves could manage.

“They have a lot of guys... That’s their strength. They keep fresh bodies in there defensively. They wear you down,” Brownell said. “ That’s obviously not a strength for this year’s team for us. Our bench is just not producing at the level. Our freshmen are not quite ready.”

The Tigers had no answer for FSU’s Mfiondu Kabengele, who scored 19 points on 9-for-13 shooting off the bench. He also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Marcquise Reed led the Tigers with 20 points and four rebounds, while Elijah Thomas (13 points), Shelton Mitchell (12) and David Skara (10) also scored in double figures.

Matt Connolly is the Clemson beat writer and covers recruiting and college sports for The State newspaper and The