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FSU basketball hosts top 10 showdown with Duke

Florida State already has its best start in the ACC era

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 Duke Blue Devils were supposed to be special. With an All American upperclassmen surrounded by six 5*s and three other top-40 recruits, their talent level can only be rivaled by Kentucky. But they haven’t been able to maintain a full roster. Only three Duke (14-2, 2-1) players have played in all of the Blue Devils’ 16 games, and one of those three (5th year Amile Jefferson) is out vs Florida State due to an injured foot. Almost all of the others have missed games with injuries, or - in Grayson Allen’s case - due to a suspension as he seeks to become college basketball’s version of that soccer guy who couldn’t stop biting opponents.

Even Coach K is out, after having his third surgery in less than a year. At this point in the season it’s hard to say whether the lack of the head coach on the sideline will have much of an affect on any one game. But this is Duke, and so they have ex high-major head coaches as assistants, and former VCU and Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel will be patrolling the sideline.

Still, they’ve put together a solid 14-2 record, with their two losses being a one possession game to Kansas and a loss at Virginia Tech.

They’ve done it with their typically elite offense. They have the 5th most efficient offense in the nation, and pretty much do everything well. Sophomore Luke Kennard leads the team at 20.3 ppg, and makes 46% of his 3s. Freshman Jayson Tatum - projected as a top 5 pick in this year’s draft - has only played eight games but averages 17.0 per contest. At 6-8, he has the size on the perimeter to be a tough matchup. Fan favorite Grayson Allen is scoring over 15 points a game, but his All American hopes have taken a beating because of his on-court antics as well as not shooting the three like he did last year (34% vs 42%). Frank Jackson, another freshman, averages 12.2 and has made 40% of his 3s.

Missing from the lineup is their double-double grad student Amile Jefferson. On a team loaded with so much young talent, Jefferson was the grown man to help pull it all together.

While the offense has been great, the defense has only been solid. At 22nd nationally, they are certainly an improvement over last year’s squad, but not the top 10 that you typically need to contend for a national title.

They don’t have any glaring weakness, they just haven’t been able to consistently shut down opponents, which is completely expected for a freshman dominated roster with injury problems.

Regardless, they are still a top 10 team and probably the toughest challenge FSU has faced this season.

The game tips at 8 PM and will be broadcast on Watch ESPN and the ACC Digital Network (check your local listings). FSU opened as a 1-point favorite.