CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Brad Brownell is not ready to make too much of his team's blowout victory, no matter how good the Tigers looked against Florida State.
Andre Young scored 18 points, Milton Jennings added 15 points and the Tigers used a 20-0 run in the first half to open Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 79-59 win over the Seminoles on Saturday.
It took Brownell several games in his debut season as coach last year to turn the Tigers (9-6, 1-0 ACC) into the 20-win team that finished fourth in the ACC and reached the NCAA tournament for a fifth straight season. Clemson's had some similar struggles this fall, blending six newcomers into a mix where upperclassmen like Young and Jennings have had to assume bigger roles than in the past.
See anything similar, coach?
"We're not where we were last year," Brownell said. "We played a very good game today. We've got a lot more where we've got to do better."
Or at least match the effort they showed in beating Florida State (9-6, 0-1), taking control early and holding the Seminoles leading scorer, Michael Snaer, to 7 points, about half his 13.6 point a game average.
Clemson outrebounded Florida State 35-34 and had five blocks. The Tigers defense held the Seminoles to 36 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers.
"That was one of our worst games," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.
Clemson quickly turned the game into a rout. Reserve center Catalin Baciu had seven points during the Tigers charge while Young and Jennings had four apiece. Florida State missed 10 straight shots during the stretch as Clemson pulled out to a 32-10 lead.
"This is a top team in the league and in the country and we were able to come out here and play like they weren't," Jennings said.
Jennings, a 6-foot-9 junior, is one of those Brownell needs to step up his game if Clemson's going to succeed in the ACC. Jennings came in as a McDonald's All-American, but had struggled his first two seasons to show that form. He was benched for a game at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii after yelling at Brownell on the sidelines and missed the Tigers loss to Hawaii for fifth place at the tournament.
Jennings cooled down, realized his role and apologized to the team. He hopes he can continue to show that attitude through some solid play. He was 7 of 10 from the field, several baskets coming on strong drives to the basket. He added eight rebounds and two blocks.
"I got my mindset right," Jennings said. "I never want to sit and watch. That's hard to do. I got me back on gear and back rolling."
Ian Miller led Florida State with 16 points.
Snaer scored 22 points in Florida State's last game — an 85-56 win over Auburn last Wednesday night. He lost that touch at Littlejohn Coliseum, though, and was held to 3 of 8 shooting. Then again, not too many Seminoles had strong shooting games. Florida State was just 22 of 61 (36 percent) in losing to Clemson for the fourth time in the past five meetings.
Young had two 3-pointers and was 10 of 12 from the foul line. Tanner Smith scored 13 points and freshman Rod Hall 11 points for the Tigers.
"I've been talking all year about how we don't have a home-run hitter. We don't have a guy that we can pencil in 18 points for," Brownell said. "But we have a lot of guys that, if they play well, we can do good things."
Clemson and Florida State were both looking to make an early ACC statement after up-and-down nonconference play, particularly in tournaments.
The Seminoles rose to No. 22 in the rankings off a 5-0 start, but fell to Harvard and then defending national champion Connecticut in the Battle4Atlantis in the Bahamas. Florida State also lost to a second Ivy League opponent, falling to Princeton in triple overtime last week.
The Tigers also struggled in their early games. They lost to instate mid-majors Coastal Carolina and College of Charleston, both at home, then lost two of three games at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, last month.
Clemson, 11th in ACC points and field goal percentage coming in, figured to have its hands full with Florida State's defense. But it was the Tigers coming out quick for a 10-3 lead.
When the Seminoles rallied back, Clemson took off on a crushing, 20-0 run over an eight minute span to go in front 32-10. Little used big man, 7-foot-2 Catalin Baciu led the charge and attacked the Seminoles big men. His two foul shots began Clemson's surge, then he added a three-point play and a power dunk over the next three minutes to increase the lead to 21-10.
Hall, Jennings and Smith all beat Florida State's stunned players to the basket as Clemson's edge grew to 17 points.
Jennings had a jam with 5:58 left for the Tigers biggest lead, 32-10.
Florida State showed some life during an 8-2 run of their own that included Terry Whisnant's four-point play and trailed 36-22 halftime. But Young got the Tigers going after the break with a 3-pointer and Clemson built a 22-point lead midway through the second half.
Hamilton said his players had a good week of practice and were blindsided by their poor effort. "I didn't see that coming," he said.