- Clemson is a 3.5-point home favorite over #18 Florida State on Tuesday night in an ACC game at Littlejohn Coliseum
- Florida State is led by senior guard M.J. Walker, who is averaging 16.0 points a game
- Clemson is ranked second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency
Two teams that got back on the winning track before Christmas meet when #18 Florida State visits Clemson at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday in an ACC game at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Both teams followed their first losses of the season with victories last Monday before breaking for the holiday. Florida State got past Gardner-Webb 72-59 as a 20.5-point favorite while Clemson outlasted Morehead State 66-51, though failing to cover the 24.5-point spread.
Florida State is 5-1 overall, 1-0 in the ACC and 3-3 against the spread. Clemson is 6-1, 0-1, 5-2 and favored to beat the Seminoles
Florida State vs Clemson Odds
|Florida State||+146||+3.5 (-110)||Over 131.5 (-110)|
|Clemson||-174||-3.5 (-110)||Under 131.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 28 from FanDuel
FSU Piecing It Together
Florida State is still trying to put the pieces together after losing three players to the NBA, including two draft lottery picks, from last season’s 26-5 team.
Junior guard Anthony Polite has stepped up his production as he is second on the team in scoring with 11.5 points a game and third in rebounding with a 5.3 average. He is also a 92% free throw shooter.
Anthony Polite. ??pic.twitter.com/IVn1UprhvU
— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) December 22, 2020
Against Gardner-Webb, Polite led Florida State with a career-high 15 points and nine rebounds. Polite has scored in double figures in four straight games after doing so just six times last season.
Sophomore center Balsa Koprivica added a season-high 14 points, lifting his season average to 10.2. He is also grabbing 5.5 rebounds a game.
Senior guard M.J. Walker leads the Seminoles with a 16.0 scoring average. Freshman guard Scottie Barnes, expected to be a lottery pick in next year’s draft, is averaging 10.7 points, 4.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds.
Scottie Barnes is my favorite player in this entire class. Top 5 lock for me. pic.twitter.com/g8vZYnM6GO
— Simon Rath (@HawksDraftNerd) December 20, 2020
Florida State made just six of 33 shots from 3-point range against Gardner-Webb for a dismal 18% but connected on 75% of its free throws (24 of 32).
The win over Gardner-Webb followed an 86-74 home loss to UCF in a game in which Florida State was favored by 15 points.
Clemson Defense Stifling
Sophomore guard Nick Honor scored 14 points, all in the second half, and made four 3-pointers to lead Clemson over Morehead State. That came after the Tigers fell on the road to Virginia Tech 66-60 in their ACC opener in the previous game.
In his first season since transferring from Fordham, Honor is shooting 42% on 3-pointers.
However, it is defense that has been Clemson’s strength this season.
Clemson is allowing just 53.4 points a game and opponents to shot 37.0% from 3-point range. The Tigers are second in the nation in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency behind only Texas Tech.
???? ? pic.twitter.com/4VkXp04Cye
— Clemson Basketball (@ClemsonMBB) December 24, 2020
Clemson, which started a season 5-0 for the first time since 1934-35, also wears teams down with its depth. Eleven players are averaging at least 10 minutes a game.
Senior forward Aamir Simms is the leading scorer at 12.1 points a game. He had his sixth career double-double against Morehead State, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Simms apparently has unlimited shooting range.
Clemson F Aamir Simms (@EarlShmitty_ ) with the full Court toss A La @KingJames @espn @SportsCenter #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/1M9PSCFvtg
— Conway (@CoachConway21) June 20, 2018
Sophomore guard Al-Amir Dawes (11.0) is the only other Tigers player scoring in double digits.
All These Months Later
Florida State and Clemson were on the floor in March ready to face each other in a quarterfinal game of the ACC Tournament when the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the remainder of the season.
The teams split their regular-season meetings in 2019-20 with each winning at home, Florida State 72-53 as a 10-point favorite and Clemson 70-69 as a 3.5-point underdog. Dawes scored 19 points for the Tigers in the upset.
Florida State has more raw talent than Clemson. However, the Tigers’ defense is awfully good, and it doesn’t hurt that they’ll be playing at home in Littlejohn.
The pick: Clemson -3.5 (-110)