CLEMSON, South Carolina — Devon Bookert thinks Florida State's backs are still against the wall, even if the Seminoles gained a bit of space with its latest win at Clemson.
The Seminoles got 17 points from Xavier Rathan-Mayes and 14 from Bookert to end a three-game losing streak with a 59-55 victory Monday night.
Florida State saw its 12-point, second-half lead slip to 56-55 on Rod Hall's foul shot with 23.3 seconds left. But the Seminoles (10-9, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) held on for their third straight win at Littlejohn Coliseum and sixth victory in their past seven meetings with the Tigers (10-8, 2-4).
"I don't think we're satisfied yet because we're still in a tough position," Bookert said. "We feel like our backs are against the wall still, but we feel like we have a sense of urgency."
After Hall drew Clemson with a point, Bookert made one of two foul shots and Rathan-Mayes had a breakaway layup for the final margin.
Clemson had two chances to tie or pull ahead, first when Hall went to the foul line and missed his first attempt.
Then trailing 57-55, Damarcus Harrison missed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in the Tigers final opportunity.
"We don't have enough shot makers," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "We need shot makers."
Rathan-Mayes had a game-high nine assists, along with five rebounds and four steals.
Bookert said Rathan-Mayes has shown that ability since the season began and is growing more comfortable in his role.
"He's a fantastic player who can do it all on the court," Bookert said.
Hall led Clemson with 12 points, Donte Grantham had 11. The team's leading scorer, Jaron Blossomgame, was held to 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Florida State looked like it might have an easy finish after stretching its lead to 56-46 on Bookert's foul shots with 2:39 to play. But Clemson rallied with nine consecutive points to tighten the game.
Florida State has had nine straight winning seasons under coach Leonard Hamilton, yet has struggled in ACC play this season, with its lone league victory coming two weeks back over winless Virginia Tech. The Tigers, meanwhile, came into this one off a dominating victory over Syracuse this past Saturday.
But it was the Seminoles — they've won five of their past six over Clemson — who started quick. Rathan-Mayes and Kiel Turpin, the son of former Kentucky All-American Mel Turpin — fueled a 13-3 run over an eight-minute stretch of the opening half.
The 7-foot Turpin had two inside buckets, Rathan-Mayes a basket and when Devon Bookert hit a 3-pointer, Florida State led 26-14.
Clemson picked up a late spark from 6-10 reserve Sidy Djitte, who scored his team's final eight points of the period as the Tigers cut things to 28-22 at the half.
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said he switched to zone with Clemson down by two to prevent a drive to the basket. "It made them take the next best shot," he said of Harrison's missed three-point try. "Fortunately, it didn't go in."
FOUL SHOT TROUBLE
Clemson was just 16 of 31 from the free throw line, including 8 of 17 in the second half. Clemson coach Brad Brownell said his team's inability to make foul shots cost them chances to set up their press and take advantage of their defense.
Florida State: Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton collected two milestones against Clemson. He tied Hugh Durham for second all-time at Florida State with 229 coaching victories and he notched his 100th ACC win.
Clemson: The Tigers had won the rebounding battle in their past four ACC contests. They outrebounded Pittsburgh 39-22 in a victory there on Jan. 10, then did a similar job in their Syracuse win two days ago, outrebounding the Orange 40-30. FSU outrebounded the Tigers 32-31.
Florida State plays at No. 15 North Carolina on Saturday.
Clemson finishes a three-game homestand with Wake Forest on Saturday.