No. 18 Clemson nips Florida St. in conference opener

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Cliff Hammonds grew up about a half
hour away from the Florida State campus, a fan of the Seminole
football and basketball teams.

He definitely was ready for Clemson's matchup with the Seminoles
on Wednesday night.

Hammonds' layup with 3 seconds left lifted the Tigers (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) to a 68-66 win over Florida State in the Atlantic Coast
Conference opener for both schools.

"We couldn't have executed that play any better," Clemson
coach Oliver Purnell said. "Cliff laid it over two tremendous
athletes for the bucket."

Vernon Hamilton, who led Clemson with 19 points, brought the
ball up and fired a pass to Hammonds for the winner. Hammonds, a
native of Cairo, Ga., also made a 3-pointer with 2 minutes left to
put the Tigers in front 64-62.

"I had struggled the whole game shooting-wise," said Hammonds,
who was just 4-for-12 from the floor. "I had to finish it."

Clemson (15-0) remains one of the country's last three unbeaten
major college teams, joining No. 16 Oregon and top-ranked UCLA, who
both play Thursday night.

Hammonds played 37 minutes and needed two IVs after the game for

"Oh, I'm so proud of him," said Delma Hammonds, his
grandmother and one of approximately 50 friends and family members
at the game to cheer on the 6-foot-3 junior.

Florida State (12-3) had tied it with 6.5 seconds left on a
tip-in by Ryan Reid.

Clemson led by as many as a dozen, 41-29 late in the first half,
but Florida State tied it at 56 on Al Thornton's basket with 5:45
left and led 62-61 on a Toney Douglas free throw with 2:20 to go.

Hamilton shot 8-for-11 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from
behind the 3-point arc.

"It's huge for us, being 1-0 in the conference," Hamilton
said. "It's going to be games like this every night. You've got to
grind these games out."

K.C. Rivers added 16 points and James Mays 14 for Clemson, which
shot 47.6 percent and managed a 32-30 rebounding advantage behind
freshman Trevor Booker's nine boards.

Thornton led the Seminoles with 19 points. Isaiah Swann scored
13 and Jason Rich added 12 for Florida State, which shot 46 percent
and made 16 of 20 foul shots.

"They executed their game plan better than we executed ours,"
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We gave them a lot of
unnecessary opportunities with our impatience."

Clemson was 2-of-5 from the free-throw line.