The Florida State men's basketball team fit the role of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde very well.
After displaying a potent offense and its usual stellar defense against Auburn Tigers, the Seminoles were a polar opposite and looked like the team FSU fans have seen all too often this season in losing to the other Tigers .... Clemson that is ... by the score of 79-59.
And it probably wasn't that close.
FSU had one early lead in the game and trailed by just two points, 12-10, when one of THOSE scoring droughts occurred. Seven minutes and forty eight seconds later the 'Noles trailed 32-10.
And that was essentially the game right there.
FSU did make a small run late in the first half to close the gap to 36-22 at intermission.
But when the Seminoles came out in the final period needing just to whittle away at the deficit by each TV timeout, instead FSU allowed Clemson to slice through the defense and jack the lead back up to twenty-two, 45-27, with 17:42 left to play. The closest FSU would get the rest of the game was just 18 points.The statistics tell the story as to why the Seminoles lost and lost badly. There is no sugar coating this one.
Meanwhile Clemson did the attacking with far too many dribble drives down the lane that went uncontested. If it wasn't a basket (Clemson shot 49%), it resulted in a foul and trip to the charity stripe .... 33 trips to be exact, connecting on 28 of them.
And then there was the turnover issue. While the number was less than the 19 per game average, too many of the 16 turnovers the Seminoles had were of the unforced kind. The 'Noles were simply not on the same page on offense, with plays like Ian Miller making a bounce pass to Michael Snaer in the right corner. Unfortunately Snaer had pulled up and the ball bounced untouched out of bounds.
It carried over to the defense as well. Apparently FSU took notes from Auburn on how not to stop the ball carrier at the free throw line, or anywhere else on the floor for that matter. Clemson had at least a half dozen baskets or free throw opportunities as a direct result of the man with the ball (usually Andre Young or Tanner Smith) going nearly the length of the floor with no one in garnet and gold even remotely stepping in front of them from anywhere on the court.
Clemson was clearly the more aggressive team. Worse yet, FSU seemed to be dis-interested in playing this game.
So what had been hoped to be a breakthrough offensively just a couple of days ago turns back into a lot of questions and doubt about FSU's chances of making a fourth straight NCAA tournament.
One positive you could say was Miller's 16 points with 6 rebounds. The only other Seminole in double digits was Bernard James with 10 points.
FSU's leading scorer, Snaer, was held to just 8 points.
On the other side of the ledger, four Tigers were in double digits led by Young's 18. Smith, Milton Jennings, and Rod Hall came off the bench to combine for 39 points.
So Florida State drops to 9-6, 0-1 on the season and is now 1-10 at Littlejohn over the last eleven games with the one win being in 2009, when FSU, behind Toney Douglas erased a 19 point deficit in the second half. With the way the Seminoles played on both ends of the floor there was never any doubt that in this game that another miracle would happen.
Next up for FSU is another trip on the road ... this time to Blacksburg to take on the Hokies. Tip off is Tuesday night at 7:00. Should you be inclined to watch it, the game will be aired on ESPNU.