Florida St chasing 1st ACC regular season title
All the tickets are sold and little remains except the wait for
Florida State’s game against fifth-ranked Duke on Thursday in what
has shaped up as one of the most important games in Florida State
The 15th-ranked Seminoles (19-7, 10-2 ACC) have already defeated
the Blue Devils (23-4, 10-2), North Carolina State, Wake Forest and
No. 7 North Carolina this season. Florida State needs a second win
over Duke to complete a sweep of its rivals from the state of North
Carolina and keep its hopes alive for the school’s first ACC
regular season championship.
The high stakes have made Duke’s visit one of the most highly
anticipated games for Florida State in decades.
One might have to go all the way back to Jan. 27, 1970 at tiny
Tully Gym where the Seminoles handed Jacksonville University its
only regular season loss that year with an 89-83 win that the
Dolphins avenged 85-81 three weeks later. It was a JU team led by
7-2 Artis Gilmore that finished second to UCLA while Florida State
finished its season 23-3 and then two years later also lost to UCLA
in the NCAA title game. Both games that winter are remembered as
Former coach Dean Smith’s North Carolina Tar Heels completed a
sweep of the Seminoles in the 1992-93 season to lock up the regular
season ACC title with an 86-76 victory on Feb. 27, 1993. The
Seminoles advanced to the final eight that season before losing to
Duke, on the other hand, lives off of big games days and hostile
”They generate that kind of hype regardless of where they go,”
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said Tuesday. ”They’ve been
in these type of games over and over and over again.”
Hamilton said Duke has improved since Florida State’s
last-second 76-73 win last month in Durham, N.C. on Michael Snaer’s
3-pointer as time expired.
”They have gotten themselves into a rhythm they seem to be
comfortable with,” Hamilton said. ”We’re playing at a high level
and they are too.”
The emergence of sophomore guard Ian Miller as a difference
maker along with Hamilton’s decision to move 6-8 Okaro White back
to power forward has paid big dividends in Florida State’s stretch
drive. Miller, who missed the first 11 games while academically
ineligible, is second in scoring at 10.5 points a game while
averaging a bit over 23 minutes playing time. Snaer is the leading
scorer at 13.5 points a game.
”This team is really deep,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said
during the weekly ACC coaches’ conference call on Monday. ”They
come at you with nine or ten guys so they are fresh.”
The Seminoles have won 10 of their last 11 games and are no
longer able to ambush anyone, establishing themselves over the past
four seasons with the third best record in ACC play. Since the
start of the 2008-2009 season, Florida State is 41-19 in ACC
regular season play, trailing only Duke and North Carolina.
Not only is first place at stake Thursday night with the regular
season winding down, so are a couple of smaller streaks of lesser
The Seminoles are 6-0 at home in the ACC while Duke is 6-0 on
the road in conference games. Florida State is after its third
straight win in the series.
”It’s the next step for an ACC championship,” Miller said.
”We can’t be complacent. We have to turn it up a notch.”