Okay fans, it’s safe. This team is for real. Facing their toughest test of the season vs No. 7 Duke, Florida State continued doing what it has done all year. Their non-stop pressure, physicality, and waves of depth took yet another close 2nd half game and turned it into the FSU-show over the final 10 minutes.
Early in the 2nd half, Duke led 50-48, but they decided to play short-handed vs FSU, with 5* talents Harry Giles and Marquis Bolden combining for just 14 minutes. The Blue Devils went primarily with a six-man rotation, and in the 2nd half they wore down.
Over the final 14 minutes FSU outscored the Blue Devils 40-22 to win 88-72. The Seminoles are now 16-1 and 4-0 in the ACC. Their 12 game winning streak is the longest in school history.
Entering the game, we were worried FSU would come out over-hyped vs Duke, playing in front of their first sellout of the season. However, FSU scored on its first four possessions, and Duke’s first stop only came when Michael Ojo blew a wide-open dunk.
The game settled into a predictable pattern, with FSU pushing small leads, only to have Duke’s efficient offense push right back. The ‘Noles never led by more than seven, and never trailed by more than three.
Florida State took a 41-37 at the break.
In the 2nd half, FSU got great early looks, but couldn’t convert, and Duke was able to open the half on a 13-7 run. And that’s when Leonard Hamilton’s team took the game over, following a pattern we’ve seen in so many games this season. Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum played excellent games for Duke, but the FSU defense limited their other weapons.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes was the 2nd half hero, scoring 18 of his team-high 21 after the break. He also only committed one turnover all game. Terance Mann had another solid game with 13 points and seven rebounds (5 offensive). Dwayne Bacon scored 13, and Jonathan Isaac had an excellent all-around game, with 11 points, five boards, two steals, and a thunderous block when he met Jayson Tatum at the rim. Michael Ojo (9 points) and Jarquez Smith (8) helped FSU dominate in the middle.
For FSU, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. They head to Chapel Hill for a showdown with UNC Saturday.