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Inside the box score: FSU’s Mfiondu Kabengele introduces himself to NBA scouts

A monster game for Fi in front of NBA scouts.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

1. It’s an easy argument to make that Duke played better without Zion Williamson, who missed the 2nd half. Is Duke better without him? That would be absurd. But for 20 minutes it worked. Not many teams have the size to disrupt his game, but Florida State does, and this limited his effectiveness to offensive rebounds and one 3-pointer (FSU would have let him shoot a hundred). When Zion is in the game, he commands so much space on offense because every set is a clear out, and very few players can guard him as he goes downhill. The result is that the other four Duke players have to operate in confined space. Without him in the game (eye injury) in the 2nd half, Duke was able to spread the floor and find better shots for the No. 1 and No. 2 recruits in the nation. As a result they were able to score 1.31 points per possession in the 2nd half, compared to just 0.97 in the first.

2. Jack White played 25 minutes, and was the only non-blue chip recruit to play for Duke. Five of the other seven would be FSU’s highest rated recruit, while the remaining pair would be FSU’s 2nd highest rated recruit (and Duke is redshirting the No. 33 player in his class). There were lots of talking heads commenting on how Leonard Hamilton was out coached, which is like handing the game ball to Nick Saban after Alabama hits a 50-yard field goal to beat Vanderbilt. The juxtaposition in skill level was shocking to watch. Luckily Duke only has one top-2 recruit in next year’s class.

3. Mfiondu Kabengele played the best game of his career. The scout’s noticed. This is a kid who was destined for a fringe Division I program before FSU scouted and offered him a scholarship. I can’t repeat the words that described how he looked in his first practices at Florida State. Against Duke he had 24 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks, which was the sophomore’s 3rd career double-double.

4. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the turnovers continue to kill FSU’s offense. In the first half Florida State turned it over on 28% of their possessions. Phil Cofer had five turnovers for the game, which is the first time in his career he has had more than three. Couple that with sometimes terrible shot selection by several players and the conversion of two 4-on-1 breaks into missed 3s, and that’s how you lose a game where you otherwise played brilliantly. If this team doesn’t place more value on possessions, they are destined for early exits in the post season.

5. FSU lost 80-78 in a 72 possession game. The 1.11 points per possession scored by Duke was their 4th lowest output of the season. On the other end of the floor, only Gonzaga has scored more per possession vs Duke than FSU. Florida State was nearly able to overcome their first half sloppiness by grabbing 47% of their own misses, which is the most offensive rebounds vs Duke in the past three years. Duke was able to rebound 41% of their own misses, but 6/15 offensive boards were either blocked shots that went out of bounds, or team rebounds (ball goes out of bounds and is awarded to Duke).