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Albany's Young drops 11, but Clemson falls at FSU

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Twenty minutes or so after former Deerfield basketball star Andre Young and his Clemson teammates fell short Sunday in Young's closest trip home to Albany, Young was shaking hands and being consoled by a throng of family and friends -- nearly 40 in all -- who made the 90-mile trip to Tallahassee, Fla., for a chance to watch him play.

And even in the 75-69 loss, Young, and all those who came to support him -- sitting in a group behind the Clemson bench -- had plenty to be proud of.

"I did all right,'' began Young, who scored 11 points, had two steals and dished out five assists, "but it's always a pleasure to come out and play in front of family and friends. I don't get to see them very often, so it's good to see familiar faces. You just get excited these games. It's nice to have some support at an away game.''

But Young, who was the star for Clemson in the first half -- scoring 11 of the Tigers' 34 points as they led 34-28 at the break -- was the first to admit this is one victory they should've had.

"(We) definitely (let this win get away),'' lamented Young, whose team falls to 5-4 overall after starting the year 5-1. "With four minutes left, we were up by one, or a couple of points, and we just let this one go.''

Young and the Tigers have FSU's Lithuania transplant, Deividas Dulkys, to thank for that.

Dulkys shook off a chilly start and hit three critical 3-point baskets that proved to be the difference in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.

Dulkys led the Seminoles with 17 points, 13 coming in the second half. His 3-point basket with 3:36 to go gave Florida State a 62-61 lead and another with 1:06 left put the Seminoles up 69-65.

It was only the third time FSU had led since jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game. And this time the Seminoles (7-2) wouldn't give it back.

"The next one goes in," Dulkys said. "That's the way I approach the game."

Clemson coach Brad Brownell just wished the same was true for his team -- and especially Young, who Brownell said afterward he wanted to keep going to after he saw Young have the hot hand early.

"I'm sure (after how Andre opened the game, FSU) paid a little more attention and we had a hard time getting him open,'' Brownell said of Young, who missed all of his shots in the second half. "We've got to do some things better to get him some shots. That's part of the problem. We just didn't defend and gave up too many easy baskets in the second half.''

Added Young: "The shots just didn't fall (in the second half). It just happens like that sometimes. ... We let this one slip. And we feel pretty bad about it.''

Dulkys and FSU benefitted immensely. He hit 3 of 4 from long range in the second half, all three baskets at clutch times, after going 2-for-7 from the field in the first half and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.

"He's confident at this stage of his career that the next one is going in," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "That's the difference between a freshman and a junior."

Young, a junior who is finally starting every game for the Tigers after playing the sixth-man role as a freshman and sophomore, scored his first points of the game midway through the first half with arguably the biggest highlight-reel moment all night. After the Clemson defense forced one of FSU's 14 turnovers it commited in the game, Young began pushing the ball down the floor with numbers. But when the Seminole defender fell for Young's fake, Young took it himself and went up and under the goal for a reverse layup -- and the foul.

Young said afterward that being in the starting lineup for all nine of Clemson's games so far has given the confidence to become a big-time playmaker.

"It's pretty nice. I mean, you get to start out with everybody else. Coming off the bench, you have to come in a (little rusty) and catch up with everybody else,'' said Young, who is enjoying his best season so far with a scoring average of 10.8 points a game (second on the team). "But it's definitely nice. I just have to out and play hard. The big thing is finishing (and we didn't Sunday night). I'm out there at the end of the game and I want to continue that way.''

Florida State hit six straight free throws in the final 38 seconds to seal the victory, but just before that, Clemson -- down four points with a minute to go -- had a chance to make it a one-point game when Young launched a 3 that just barely rimmed out.

"I'm so very disappointed with how we played in the second half (as a whole),'' Brownell said. "In the first half, we controlled tempo, took care of the ball and took good shots. In the second half, we came out poorly.''

The opposite was true for Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton and his bunch, which has now won two in a row after starting out 6-0, then dropping games to Top 25s Florida and Ohio State befire routing Hartford in its last game, 60-38, to get back on track.

"I think (Sunday night) was a sign that we are moving in the right direction," Hamilton said.

Dulkys didn't play in Florida State's win against Hartford after losing a fingernail on his non-shooting left hand in practice.

Chris Singleton added 13 points for the Seminoles, while senior guard Derwin Kitchen chipped in with nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Demontez Stitt led Clemson with 18 points. Tanner Smith added 13 points and Jerai Grant chipped in 12.

The score was tied four times and the lead changed hands on 10 occasions, the last one at 62-61 on the Dulkys shot.

Dulkys was on Brownell's mind before the game.

"He's a good player," Brownell said. "He was a concern of mine going in."

Young said he's concerned going forward after the Tigers lost their third game in a row. But it's nothing that can't be fixed before their next game against Savannah State on Dec. 17.

"We just need to work on everything. Just communicating better. Playing better defense. The whole nine yards,'' Young said. "We have a long way to go but it's a long season, so we just need to start working (to fix it) now.''

One of those in Young's crowd of supporters outside the locker room after the game who was likely giving out a little advice was his former Deerfield coach, Gordy Gruhl, who had marked this date on his calendar months ago.

So what'd the ol' ball coach have to say to his former star pupil?

"He just gave me a pat on the back and said 'Good game,'" Young said of what was exchanged between he and Gruhl as the two stood and talked after the loss. "It's always a pleasure to see coach Gruhl. Glad he was out there. Glad everyone else came. It was good to see everybody.''

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.