TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State had two weeks to stew on a Dec. 29 loss at Clemson when they're season was interrupted by coronavirus protocols, and the Seminoles took the chance to re-evaluate and fine-tune.
They're certainly rolling now, winning four straight games — three of them by double figures.
Balsa Koprivica had 13 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double and Florida State pulled away early and routed No. 20 Clemson 80-61 on Saturday.
Sardaar Calhoun added a season-best 13 points for Florida State (9-2, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). Calhoun, a junior college transfer, made 4 of 5 3-pointers.
“We’re better than what we were playing before,” said RaiQuan Gray, who had 11 points. “We feel that we’re the best team in the country and we want to go out each night and prove it. Just marking everybody off the list. Next up. That’s our mentality going forward.”
John Newman III scored 12 points for Clemson (9-4, 3-4), which has dropped three straight games.
Florida State used a 15-2 run early in the first half to take a commanding 24-9 lead with 9:16 until halftime. The Seminoles prevented dribble drives, a big factor in Clemson’s win over them in December, and cruised to a 42-24 lead at the half.
“I think just in general we’ve been working a lot on help-side defense,” said Koprivica, a 7-foot-1 sophomore center. “That was one of our weaknesses. It’s starting to show a little bit more each and every game.”
In the first half, Clemson had more turnovers (seven) than made shots (4 of 24). The Tigers were 14 of 16 from the free-throw line, helping to keep them in the game early before the Seminoles poured it on in the second half. Florida State led by 38 with 11:20 left in the game.
Clemson shot 17 of 56 (30.4%) from the floor and 5 of 30 (16.7%) from 3-point range. The Tigers’ three straight losses — to Virginia, at Georgia Tech and at Florida State — have all been by double figures.
“Obviously we got to get this fixed,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “I think there’s guys in this locker room that care enough to do it. … We haven’t played very well and those teams have made us pay. We’ve lost a little confidence.”
Florida State made 29 of 60 (48.3%) from the floor and 12 of 28 (42.9%) from 3-point range. The Seminoles are 4-0 since going two weeks between games due to coronavirus protocols, getting wins over NC State, North Carolina, at Louisville and Clemson.
M.J. Walker, Florida State’s leading scorer, had 10 points but left with an injury after being hit by teammate Tanor Ngom. Walker was noticeably unsteady as he needed help from teammates walking to the Seminoles’ locker room. Hamilton said Walker appeared to be “OK” upon an initial evaluation in the locker room.
Anthony Polite, who has missed the last two games, will be out another week or two with a shoulder strain, Hamilton said.
Following a third straight loss, Clemson will likely drop out of the Top 25. Florida State is 4-0 in the last 11 days and could jump from receiving votes to ranked on Monday when the new poll is released.
Clemson misfired badly from 3-point range early, making just 2 of 16 (12.5%) of shots from beyond the arc in the first half. The Tigers trailed by double figures most of the game and couldn’t catch up.
Florida State showed off its depth as 11 players scored, avenging a 77-67 loss at Clemson on Dec. 29. The Seminoles have not lost to Clemson in Tallahassee since Feb. 4, 2015.
Clemson will play host to Boston College on Tuesday.
Florida State will play host to Miami on Wednesday.
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