TALLAHASSEE — Toney Douglas is 6-foot-1 and doesn't have a lot of veteran help at Florida State. That hasn't kept him from being nearly unstoppable, especially at crunch time.
Douglas scored 23 and the No. 23 Seminoles held off a late Clemson rally, defeating the 12th-ranked Tigers 73-66 Saturday to get closer to their first NCAA Tournament bid in 11 years.
"I'd say we're in, but we have more games, too," Douglas said. "I know if we'd lost after having an 18-point lead, I'd have cried afterward."
The senior guard has now scored 20 or more in 11 of FSU's past 13 ACC games and had 19 the other two times.
"He's certainly a player of the year candidate," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "He almost opens up the inside by himself."
Whether it's slashing to the basket, hitting a 3-pointer or making a steal, Douglas is arguably the single most disruptive force in the ACC.
"I don't think there's any other player in our league faced with that type of scenario," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "The unique and special thing Toney is giving us is tremendous leadership."
But Douglas is quick to share credit with his younger teammates.
"They come in with tremendous energy and intensity," he said. "And they've got good basketball IQ."
The Seminoles (22-7, 9-5) led 39-27 at halftime and opened their largest lead at 51-33 early in the second half, but Clemson closed to within 63-60 on five points by Raymond Sykes within 12 seconds.
But then it came down to Douglas, who hit six straight free throws to ice the game and help the Seminoles sweep Clemson for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
"We got back in it, but it's like being on a high wire," Purnell said, lamenting Clemson's 23 turnovers.
K.C. Rivers led Clemson (22-6, 8-6) with 17 points. Trevor Booker was held to eight.