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February 7, 2009

What a comeback! FSU wins at Clemson

CLEMSON, S.C. -- When Clemson's David Potter made a lay-up with less than 15 minutes remaining Saturday night, Florida State found itself trailing by 19 points at Littlejohn Coliseum. After that, however, it was all Seminoles.

Led by 17 second-half points from senior point guard Toney Douglas, Florida State outscored the Tigers, 40-17, to steal a 65-61 victory over the nation's 10th-ranked team.

"Our energy level was good and we stayed with it the whole time," Douglas said. "We never quit. We were down 19 on the road. That comes to being a pride thing at that point. We just got angry, we got mad, and we decided to play and we picked up the win."

The never-say-die attitude was reinforced by head coach Leonard Hamilton.

"Clemson's talent and the fact they got out on us the way they did kind of backed us into a corner and forced us to have to have that synergy in order to be successful," Hamilton said. "I am glad we were able to fight back and win the game. Hopefully we learned a lot from this game."

"It was a great win," Douglas added. "Thank God for that win."

Clemson (19-3, 5-3 ACC) entered the game coming off a 27-point victory over No. 4 Duke on Wednesday night. Early on against the Seminoles (18-5, 5-3 ACC), it looked as though the Tigers were going to have a repeat performance.

The Tigers had an eight-point lead heading into the half and used a 10-0 run in the opening two minutes of the second half to extend the lead to 18. At that point, Hamilton called a timeout and preached to his team patience and focus.

"Against Duke and against Carolina , they all went on big runs against us," freshman point guard Luke Loucks said. "I think we were down 20-something to Duke and we came back. Coach Hamilton really just went down the bench and said to stay focused and that there is still time."

The game changed from that point on. And while the comeback was spurred by the offense finally getting going, freshman center Solomon Alabi pointed to their defense as the key in the run. The Seminoles allowed only two field goals in the final 8:52 of the game.

"We believe in our defense," Alabi said. "We knew that we could stop them and that eventually our offense was going to come." Florida State closed the gap to one with 2:26 remaining when Luke Loucks hit a three-pointer from the wing after a Toney Douglas assist.

"Honestly I didn't even know we were that close," Loucks said. "I thought it was still an eight- or nine-point game. I wasn't even paying attention to the scoreboard."

After a Terrence Oglesby offensive foul on the next possession, Douglas went to the 7-foot-1 Alabi in the paint. Alabi hit a short jumper to give the Seminoles the lead with 2:03 remaining.

"Toney told me to post up and he was going to find me," Alabi said. "He believes in me and that gives me confidence. He got me the ball and I knew I could finish it. I was confident when I took that shot."

Alabi finished with 17 points while also contributing nine rebounds and five blocks in the victory.

"Solomon stepped it up and made big plays for us," Hamilton said.

The Seminoles would never look back as Douglas made five free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. The senior leader scored 12 points in a 23-4 run to finish the game.

With the victory, the Seminoles improved to 5-3 in ACC play. Halfway through the conference schedule, Florida State is hoping its upset victory in the Palmetto State can help them reach their ultimate goal of returning to the NCAA Tournament.

"Any team that has a winning record in the ACC should be happy with themselves," Loucks said. "You can never be satisfied, though, because the minute you are satisfied you will lose two or three in a row."

Florida State will look to continue its winning ways on Tuesday evening when the Seminoles host the Virginia Cavaliers at 7 p.m.


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