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Hammonds' late layup extends unbeaten start for Clemson

Jan 4, 2007 - 8:05 AM TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Ticker) -- Cliff Hammonds made sure the start of conference play did not signal the end of Clemson's pursuit of a school record.

Hammonds made a game-winning layup with three seconds left as No. 18 Clemson continued its undefeated start with a thrilling 68-66 victory over Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both schools.

In closing within two wins of matching the best start in school history, Clemson (15-0) remained one of three teams in Division I with an unblemished record, along with top-ranked UCLA (13-0) and No. 17 Oregon (13-0).

Both the Bruins and Ducks play on Thursday.

Leading for most of the second half, the Tigers saw the Seminoles (12-3) grab a 62-61 lead as Toney Douglas split two free throws with 2:20 remaining.

Clemson, which was looking for its first win in a league opener on the road since December 7, 1996, moved back ahead by four points with 59 seconds to play after a 3-pointer by Hammonds and a follow shot by James Mays.

However, Florida State, which toppled then-No. 4 Florida here on December 3, answered right back with a layup by Al Thornton and a follow shot by Ryan Reid to tie the game at 66-66 with seven seconds left.

After a timeout by the Tigers, Vernon Hamilton brought the ball up court and found Hammonds for a layup, sealing the team's fourth win in its last five meetings with the Seminoles.

Before the late heroics, Hammonds - the team's fifth-leading scorer at 10.2 points entering - had been struggling from the field, making just 2-of-12 shots. He also missed all five of his previous 3-pointers before the crucial one with two minutes left.

Hammonds finished with nine points, snapping a string of three straight games in double figures.

Hamilton finished with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and K.C. Rivers added 16 off the bench for Clemson, which shot 48 percent (30-of-63).

Mays had 14 points and six rebounds and freshman Trevor Booker added nine boards for the Tigers, who held a 32-30 edge in rebounding and 40-30 advantage in points in the paint.

Thornton paced Florida State with 19 points, including eight in the final 8:46.

Isaiah Swann scored 13 and Jason Rich added 12 for the Seminoles, who lost despite attempting four times more free throws (20) than the Tigers (5). They finished 80 percent from the line (16-of-20).