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Florida State 66 Duke 61 : Outplayed, Outhustled and Exposed. In a word, Craptastic.

In Flordida State’s not-especially-illustrious basketball history, they can claim 4 victories over #1 ranked opponents.Three of those are against Duke. It’s safe to say Leonard Hamilton has our number ( yuk,yuk).

Duke never looked comfortable against the nations second-best defense on Wednesday night, as the Noles held Duke to a season-low 31% from the field. The Devils were on their heels from the outset, and only found their footing for brief stints, mostly in the second half.

In the first nine minutes of the game Duke hit 4 shots. (Not good) Florida State’s length and athleticism gave the Devils fits on the offensive end, preventing dribble penetration and, because of Duke’s utter lack of offensive post presence, forced them to take A LOT of contested and/or hurried threes. Duke missed their first 10 shots from beyond the arc ( while taking only 5 two point shots during that time) and finished the half a miserable 4-16 from three. Reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year Chris Singleton completely bottled up Kyle Singler, limiting him to 2 points 0-5 from the floor with 5 turnovers and 3 fouls. On the other end of the floor, Florida State simply did what they had to do with limited offensive weaponry and outhustled Duke, seemingly making 50-50 balls 100-0 balls in their favor. Center Bernard James put in a first half team high 8 points mostly on stickbacks after outfighting Duke players on the interior. The rest of the Seminoles offense came from the timely shooting of Singleton and  Derwin Kitchen ( ugh), a theme that would be repeated ( to my continued disgust) in the second half.

Improbably, and for the second game in a row, Duke came out of the locker room looking even more flat than they did in the first half, particularly on the defensive end. Florida State hit five of their first eight shots, including five points from Derwin Kitchen ( ugh) while the Devils managed only 2 field goals in the first 6 minutes ( Not good). This led to a 40-29 FSU lead with 14 minutes remaining. FINALLY, Duke got a fire lit under their collective asses, locked down on defense, and created 3 turnovers in three minutes to claw their way back to a 42-42 tie. Then, Derwin Kitchen ( ugh. really?) dropped in a timely 3. Duke went into squander mode, as three more FSU turnovers in under a minute resulted in only 3 Duke points, after which Derwin Kitchen ( ugh and double ugh) dropped in 5 straight points to give the Seminoles a 50-45 cushion at the 8:35 mark. Duke kept the game close, thanks to the hot shooting of Kyle who scored 18 second half points( including five 3’s) but was never able to reclaim the lead, as Singleton and Kitchen hit big shots down the stretch and the Noles went 4-5 from the line in the final minute.

Bottom line is this : Florida State exploited Duke’s complete lack of an inside game by pressuring Duke’s shoooters all night with an outstanding defensive effort. On the offensive end , they hit big shots and freet throws when they needed them, and got a career best performance from Kitchen who finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists on 9-13 shooting from the floor.

The last 2 times Duke lost to FSU when ranked number 1, they ended the season with a loss in the sweet 16. Unless improvements are made vis-a-vis the production from our bigs, tonight’s game may very well prefigure another untimely exit.

We really missed Kyrie tonight, boys and girls. A lot.

Game Notes

- Duke was 11-35 from three and 8-26 otherwise. No exigesis necessary here.

- Miles is ensconced in the doghouse and played 6 ineffective minutes. Mason was a monster on the boards with 14, but fouled out in 32 minutes and now has 10 fouls in his last 48 minutes of court time.

- Andre, Seth and Ryan were a collective 3-17 from 3 point range. Take away Smith and Singler’s points and the entire rest of the team managed just 22 points ( not good)

- Kyle was a beast a the second half, but took (and missed) an EXTREMELY ill-advised three from about a mile away with Duke only down 3 with a little over a minute remaining.