Florida State falls to the Duke Blue Devils on the road, 88-70. While the Seminoles started the game with a spark on the offensive end, their exhausted lineup wasn’t enough to pull away with a win. The Noles continue their Durham drought, having last won a road game against the Blue Devils in 2012.
Player of the Game: Freshman guard Jalen Warley showed incredible poise and maturity leading the Noles with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Florida State was greeted by a revengeful crowd, entering one of the most hostile environments in college basketball, Cameron Indoor Stadium. Their last meeting ended in a Seminoles overtime win where FSU knocked off No.6 Duke 79-78. Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski will be retiring after the 2022 season, marking the final time the Noles will face the basketball icon.
The crumbling Seminoles came into Duke with five of their usual starters out due to injuries sustained in the last six weeks. Head coach Leonard Hamilton and the Noles staff started the game with Jalen Warley, Mathew Cleveland, Wyatt Wilkes, John Butler, and Tanor Ngom. Guards Anthony Polite, RayQuan Evans, and Caleb Mills along with big men Malik Osborne and Naheem McLeod did not play.
FSU won the tip and felt the rowdy atmosphere off the bat. Just eighty seconds into the ball game Butler picked up two fouls and was forced to sit down. Cam’Ron Fletcher replaced the freshman, both of which had to guard projected top five pick Paolo Banchero. Harrison Prieto entered quickly after for Ngom and the score was tied 7-7.
The Seminoles felt the size advantage from the Blue Devils, giving up eight of Duke’s first 12 points in the paint. The first timeout was called by the Noles with 15:55 remaining in the first half, 12-7 Duke. Wilkes knocked down a deep three to cut the lead to 14-12 and Fletcher was at the line the following play, shooting 1-2. Justin Linder entered the game with 13:01 left in the half to give Warley a breather.
FSU led 18-16 after the second timeout was called, starting the game with some of the best offensive efficiency they’ve had in recent weeks. Duke’s Mark Williams was also in foul trouble early, picking up two in the first ten minutes. Quincy Ballard checked in the game at the halfway point in the first half and scored on his very first possession. After Florida State led for the majority of the first half, the Blue Devils tied it up at 24 with 8:51 remaining.
The back and forth affair continued late in the half when FSU tied the ball game at 30. Duke started to get the hot hand when Trevor Keels and Joey Baker found their rhythm. With 3:53 remaining in the half Duke led the Noles 38-36. Cleveland led both teams in scoring with 11, while Ngom had nine. They were a combined 8-10 from the field.
The Seminoles played a tight three up, two down zone that suffocated Duke inside the paint. Although they found a way to force Duke outside the painted area, the Blue Devils plugged in senior Joey Baker and he poured in four threes that gave them a comfortable 52-41 lead entering the locker room at the half.
Cleveland piloted the Noles with 11 points on 5-8 shooting, while Warley and Wilkes both had eight points . The game started to slip away when the Blue Devils found their stroke; Baker and Duke guard AJ Griffin both had 12 points at the break. Butler was never checked back in after the first two minutes.
The Seminoles started the game off hot from the field, with a confidence level that hadn’t been there the past few games. Yet, their closeout defense put them in a hole late in the first half that was hard to climb out of. They went deep into their wounded bench, playing three freshman and two walk-ons in the first half.
Ngom picked up his second foul on the first play of the half and Cleveland followed that with his second soon after. Despite a couple early turnovers from Duke to start the half the Seminoles didn’t have success at putting the ball in the basket. Butler scored the first field goal with 17:18 left in the second half.
Prieto was the first to check in for the Noles, replacing Ngom with 16:38 remaining. Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. slammed an emphatic dunk right after and he was set to shoot one from the charity stripe after the media timeout. With 15:45 remaining the Blue Devils led 55-44.
Duke started to pull away after a pair of missed free throws from Cleveland, highlighted by an airball that had the crowd roaring. After leading 60-46, Warely knocked down a much needed three to cut the deficit. Butler picked up his third foul on a Banchero and-one and the Noles were down by 14 yet again. Linder checked in with 13 minutes remaining and Warely headed to the bench.
The Noles mismanagement on the offensive end led to transition buckets for the Blue Devils and forced fouls they couldn’t afford to make. With 11:48 left in the half, Warley led FSU with 12 points and five assists while carrying a sense of composure that isn’t typical from a freshman. Fletcher picked up his second foul with 9:25 left in the half and Ngom checked in for a size cap they were missing.
The Blue Devils earned a 20 point lead just a minute after and the Noles were slowly being buried into the loss column. FSU had finally found a flow on the offensive that cut the deficit to 75-59 after a Warley three ball. Yet, Banchero quickly took the helm and scored four straight for Duke leading into the under seven minute media timeout.
Cleveland went cold in the middle of the second half and the only points were coming from a tired Warley. Duke led 83-63 with 3:28 remaining in the second half. Banchero put the Blue Devils on his back, stacking up 17 points and eight rebounds at that point.
Ballard was checked in late in the game to stop dominant paint presence from Williams and Banchero. Cleveland made a late push on the defensive end but it was too late. With a minute left in the ball game the benches were cleared and the starters took a seat. The Blue Devils took the win 88-80 after a hard fought matchup.
Freshman duo Cleveland and Warely led the Noles with a combined 31 points and Fletcher had 12 of his own. Banchero was lead man for the Blue Devils with 17 points and eight rebounds.
The Seminoles drop to 14-12 on the season and 7-9 in the conference. They have four games remaining in the season, looking toward the ACC tournament beginning March 8th.
Next game: Florida State will continue their road trip on Feb.21 at Boston College. The Eagles are currently 9-16 on the season and 4-11 in the conference. The game will be featured on the ACCN.