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Tigers nearly overcome 20-point second-half deficit in loss
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 30 points and Florida State held on for a wild 76-73 win over Clemson on Wednesday in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Montay Brandon added 17 points for the ninth-seeded Seminoles (17-15), who led by 20 with 9 minutes to play. They will play No. 3 and top-seeded Virginia (28-2) Thursday in the quarterfinals.
Rod Hall had a career-high 25 points for the eighth-seeded Tigers (16-15), who pulled to 75-73 on Hall’s free throws with 25.2 seconds left, then got the ball back after Florida State threw the inbounds pass away.
Hall drove the lane and put up a jumper that hung on the rim but refused to drop. Phil Cofer put the Seminoles up three with a free throw with 9.5 seconds left.
The Tigers worked the ball to Gabe DeVoe, whose deep 3-pointer with about 3 seconds left bounced off the iron.
Jaron Blossomgame missed on a put-back attempt at the buzzer for the Tigers.
Blossomgame finished with 14 points and DeVoe added 10 for Clemson, which has lost three straight and five of six.
They seemed on their way to a lopsided loss, trailing by 13 with less than 2 minutes to play before rallying.
The Tigers hit three 3s in a minute to pull within five, then took advantage of a weird play to make it a one-possession game: Cofer slipped on his backside while inbounding the ball, and it slipped out of his hands and rolled across the end line to Blossomgame, whose layup with 30.8 seconds left made it 74-71.
Rathan-Mayes hit a free throw before Hall’s two big foul shots made it a two-point game.
Florida State’s ensuing inbounds pass bounced off Devon Bookert’s hands and face before going out of bounds to give the Tigers their last, best chance.
Cofer finished with 10 points for the Seminoles, who certainly seemed on their way to an easy win after building that big lead.
Rathan-Mayes made two free throws, then banked in a jumper that put Florida State up 57-37 with just over 9 minutes to play.
Florida State: Coach Leonard Hamilton moved into a tie with J.K. Kennedy at 236 wins with the school — the most in program history.
Clemson: The Tigers have won only two ACC tournament games since 2009.