The Duke Blue Devils continue striding forward every time they take the floor during Thursday’s 74-66 victory at Florida State.
Duke won this game on grit, determination and smarts. The Blue Devils hit a ton of 3-pointers, which obviously were a big difference, but this win signaled where this team is mentally as March nears.
Florida State, on the other hand, would be wise to learn from its mistakes in this game, because it could have won, but didn’t take advantage of a missed opportunity.
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Duke improved to 24-4 overall and 11-2 in the ACC, while FSU dropped to 19-8 and 10-3.
Here are the grades for both teams’ performances Thursday night:
Duke offense: Two Duke starters scored a single point each, and a third, Seth Curry, didn’t score during the first 30 minutes of the contest, yet the Blue Devils still put 74 points on the board against the ACC’s best defensive team and won on the road by 8 points. Andre Dawkins hit 6 of 9 3s and Duke as a whole hit 13 of 28. Austin Rivers had 20 points and four assists as the Devils fought through foul trouble and a frenzied atmosphere to get the victory. Grade: B+.
FSU offense: The Seminoles should have attacked Duke from the outset and kept it up, especially in the second half when all of Duke’s bigs were in foul trouble. The offensive philosophy from FSU and its execution were poor. The Noles shot 39.7 percent overall, including a lousy 26.7 percent (4-for-15) from 3-point range. Grade: D+.
Duke defense: The Devils did a solid job defending the perimeter and not letting FSU run a lot of stuff. But truth be told, the Seminoles played into Duke’s hand. FSU made it easy for Duke to defend because it ran poor screens and didn’t challenge the Devils they way it should have. That said, credit Duke, which hasn’t been close to its usual self defensively this season, for keeping FSU’s field goal numbers (39.7 percent from the floor, including 26.7 from 3) down. Grade: B.
FSU defense: Usually great, the Seminoles did not defend the 3 as well as it could have and has in the past. Not only did it allow Duke to convert 13 of 28 shots from beyond the arc, but the Noles fouled a few 3-point shooters, which is a big-time no-no. They did keep Duke off the offensive glass (just 6 boards there), and overall the Devils converted just 42.3 percent of their shot attempts. Grade: C-.
Duke intangibles: Major foul trouble to its bigs, three of its starters combined for two points in the first 30 minutes of the game, and playing in a very difficult environment and Duke still left with an 8-point victory over a team that entered the night essentially tied for first place in the ACC. The Devils also fended off the Seminoles late, continuing its growth in closing out games. Grade: A+.
FSU intangibles: Despite having a poor plan offensively and playing just as badly, plus only hitting four 3-pointers, the Seminoles had a chance late to make one final push, but fell short. FSU played hard, defended well in stretches, and showed it was only a few more quality minutes of hoops away from sweeping Duke. But it just wasn’t meant to be. Grade: C.