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Duke vs. Florida State: Never Pleasant Viewing

AP PhotoJust got home from the latest slugfest between Duke and the Seminoles. Without a doubt, my 3 least favorite ACC teams to watch Duke play against are these guys, GaTech and BC. They pretty much try to beat you into playing their own special brands of ugly ball, and it usually works, even if it doesn’t always result in a win for them.

Tonight was no exception. Basically, the first half involved Duke consistently pushing the lead up to 8 led by Nolan ( love those floaters and that mid-range game!) and a hot shooting Scheyer, only to fail to capitalize on momentum plays ( a rimmed out 3 here, a blown layup there) and have it drop back down to 3 or 4. Finally, the end of the half saw us get a little more breathing room thanks to a 3 by Singler ( for whom, i announced at i half, i was officially prepared to punch the panic button…more on that in a sec.) The defense was quality in general, and Lance was superb. The man covers more ground more quickly to get back in position after hedges and switches  than anyone i can remember.

In the early part of the second half, 11 was the new 8 for a while, but we finally managed to crack that barrier with some more help from Singler, and it looked like we were going to salt the game away at the 13 minute mark. At that point FSU got their defense in gear and held Duke scoreless over a 6 minute span, during which time our glaring lack of offensive post presence and reticence to take the ball in amongst their height really became problematic. FSU continued to turn things in their favor with strong play on the offensive boards and momentum driven hustle. The turning point, interestingly, was Coach K’s decision to go to “Orange”, or, as the unwashed masses say, “Zone.” We came up with 2 HUGE stops on defense, turned them into points, and never really looked back.

Florida Sate has 2 good players offensively in Alabi and Singleton (Singleton is one of those guys i always think should be better than he is) and that’s about it. Dulkys can drop in the occasional  three, but mostly it doesn’t make for a pretty game, especially when going up against a defense as good as Duke’s. Defense was really the story again for us as we held our opponent to under 60 for the second straight game and forced 22 turnovers , which ties the Gardner-Webb game for the most this year. Couple that big games from 2 of the Big 3 and you’ve got a pretty good formula for success.

Some observations/comments:

  • Singler FINALLY found some offensive rhythm in the second half ( thank you, Lord!) going 4-7 and 2-2 from distance. . Coming in to the game he was 18-47 in his last 3 games and in the first half was 2-7 and 0-3. We HAVE to have him shooting better ( particularly his mid -range game)if we are going to go very far this year.
  • Nolan finally had a cold shooting night. It’s a real luxury to have three guys who are legit 20 point threats.
  • Coach K was royally unhappy with Mason’s Defense in the first half ( and rightfully so). This was the second straight second half where he played virtually no minutes, and is spending a lot of time watching the game with Dre and Ryan these days.
  • We are basically in a 6 man rotation. I hope our conditioning is as good as Coach K says it is or we’re in for another NCAA flame out.

Sign of the night :  

Unranked and

Nobody 

Cares                                        

             (  … but , of course, we do)