Florida State rallies from 18 down to beat Clemson in OT
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By JOE REEDY
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Leonard Hamilton's 500th win as a college head coach will be one he is going to remember for a long time.
Hamilton's Florida State team trailed 11th-ranked Clemson by 18 early in the second half on Wednesday but rallied to send it into overtime before winning 81-79.
After the game, Hamilton took the milestones in stride - it is also his 300th victory in 16 seasons at Florida State - and was focusing more on what the win means for his team going into the final four Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season games.
"The most important thing is we came out with a win," Hamilton said. "I just want to stay in the moment. Every game that we play from here on out we have to stay exceptionally focused."
Florida State (18-8, 7-7) tied the game twice in the second half but didn't take its first lead until 1:05 remaining in overtime when Trent Forrest made a layup to put them up 75-74. The 6-foot-5 sophomore guard, who came into the game averaging 6.0 points, scored a career-high 16 with eight coming in the final 5:08 of the game.
"It was all about picking the perfect time to go and attack the rim. I was playing off my teammates and was trying to work on finishing," he said.
After Clemson was called for a 5-second violation on the inbounds, Forrest came up big with another driving layup to put FSU up by three.
Clemson scored four of the next six points to get within 79-78 but Forrest made both free throws with 5.3 seconds remaining to extend the margin to three.
Reed was fouled with 3 seconds remaining. He made the first and missed the second. Clemson was unable to get off a last-second shot though to send it to another overtime.
Phil Cofer, who scored all 17 of his points after halftime, said the key to the rally was being more aggressive driving into the paint along with turning up the defensive pressure.
"Honestly, we were focused on our defense and getting stops so that our offense would take over," he said.
Clemson led 41-29 at halftime as it made seven 3-pointers in the first half while Florida State had more turnovers (11) than field goals (9). An Aamir Simms 3-pointer gave the Tigers a 49-31 lead with 18:06 remaining before Florida State was able to start battling back as it went on a 17-2 run.
Clemson would score four straight to go up 55-48 but the Seminoles eventually fought back to tie it at 59 on Cofer's jumper with 6:59 remaining.
The Tigers scored seven straight points and appeared to regain control. They were up 70-64 with 2:24 remaining, but missed their final four shots in regulation. Florida State made its last three shots to send it into overtime, including a driving off-balance layup by Forrest with eight seconds remaining.
"We had a couple bad stretches in the second half and in overtime made one or two bad plays," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "We won the first half, they won the second. They beat us by a play."
Clemson: The Tigers were on the verge of winning five straight conference games for only the third time since 1991-92, but had 12 turnovers in the second half along with not being able to get to the foul line.
Florida State: After dropping games against Virginia and Notre Dame last week, the Seminoles were able to bounce back with one of their biggest comebacks in years. They are .500 in the conference, but a victory over a team that is number four in the RPI helps boost the resume.
Terance Mann, who is Florida State's leading scorer, was held to eight points in two games last week but was able to return to form with 13 points and seven rebounds in the win over Clemson.
Clemson's Shelton Mitchell took a shot to the head with 11 seconds remaining and was knocked out momentarily. Brownell said Mitchell was taken to the hospital for a CT scan and didn't have any update.
Clemson: Hosts Duke on Sunday. The Tigers are 3-2 against ranked teams this season.
Florida State: Hosts Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Seminoles have lost their last two against the Panthers.
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Updated February 14, 2018