TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Behind a career-high 29 points from sophomore Dwayne Bacon, No. 15 Florida State rolled to a 109-61 win over Clemson on Sunday in the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The 6-6 guard out of Lakeland, Fla. had his way with the Tigers on a day where the entire team seemed inspired to play some of the best basketball the Seminoles have shown in the 2016-17 season.
As a team, FSU shot 66.1% from the floor, a school record for an ACC game. The Noles shot a blistering 57% (17-30) from beyond the arc, with the number of threes made also being a school record in ACC play. Additionally, the 109 points were the most scored in an ACC game by FSU since 1999 and the 48-point margin of victory was largest ever in a conference game by the school.
“Today was one of those days it seemed as though everything was going right for our team,” coach Leonard Hamilton said following the game. “Our guys were connected both defensively and offensively. We shot the ball very well and defended very well.
In the first half, leading 11-8, the Seminoles went on a 9-0 run, extending the lead to 12 and never looking back. Freshman guard, CJ Walker, provided an instant spark of the bench, burying a triple and then finishing the sequence with a physical layup in transition, resulting in a bucket and a foul.
The story on the day however, was Bacon who recorded 18 points in the first half on 6 of 8 shooting, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, his 33rd straight game with double figures. His back-to-back threes put FSU up double digits after Clemson cut the lead to six midway through the period.
“When I’m in the zone, I just block everything else out,” Bacon said smiling as he reflected on the big afternoon. “I was just feeling it today.”
“The team realized he had the hot hand and were moving the ball well to take advantage of a night where he was clicking on all cylinders,” Hamilton added.
With Bacon leading the charge, the Seminoles used a 20-2 run late in the first half in route to a 51-25 halftime lead, slamming the door shut on the Tigers.
While the offense was firing on all cylinders, FSU was equally as effective on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Tigers to under 35% shooting in the first half and just over 39% for the entire game.
“The little things on defense matter,” sophomore guard Terance Mann said. “When you expect to win and have that mentality, you do all the things necessary to play well.”
The Seminoles are at their best when they’re deflecting passes and getting out into transition for easy buckets. On Sunday, FSU forced Clemson into 22 turnovers, propelling them into 35 points. The Noles also blocked five shots, giving them numerous opportunities to get out and run, reflected by their 18 fast break points.
FSU racked up 58 more points in the second half as the energy did not let up, especially from Bacon who continued to pile it on.
On a few occasions, Bacon brought the 10,868 in attendance to their feet with long distance shots that seemingly were thrown in from Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU’s scoring leader would finish the game 10 of 14 from the floor, including 6 of 9 from deep.
“Get him the ball,” Mann said laughing on his thoughts of seeing Bacon in the zone. “That’s all you think about.”
“It’s not just threes, it’s the range from which he makes shots,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell added. “He’s got size and strength to get to the rim, a tremendous player.”
Bacon’s hot night was contagious to his teammates as the Seminoles made 17 threes in the game, shooting nearly 57% (17-30) from beyond the arc.
FSU finished the game shooting over 66% from the floor on 26 assists. The FSU bench was strong yet again, outscoring Clemson’s unit 55-26. Braian Angola-Rodas and Mann added 12 and 11 points, respectively for FSU. The win moves Florida State to 20-4 (8-3 ACC) on the year, the fastest the program has ever reached 20 wins in a season.
The Noles next continue their two-game home stand on Wednesday against NC State as they look to build on two straight strong performances.
“We’re constantly trying to challenge them both physically and emotionally to go that level that separates good teams from great ones,” Hamilton said.
“I think this team is starting to become who they will end up being and the best part is, there is still plenty of room left from improvement.”