Seminoles’ lack of precision cost game

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State has lived and died with

the 3-pointer this season.

On Thursday, no matter how much life an enthusiastic, energized crowd could

offer, there was little life to the Seminoles’ 3-point shooting in a 74-66 loss

to fifth-ranked Duke.

FSU made just 4-of-15 3-point attempts. Plus, the Seminoles weren’t very good

at the free-throw line, either, hitting just 12-of-22 freebies.

“We had too many empty possessions,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said,

while Duke had too many fruitful possessions.

Those numbers don’t beat Duke, not when Andre Dawkins and Austin Rivers were

putting up 3-pointers from everywhere – and making them seemingly at will. Dawkins

(22 points) and Rivers (20 points) combined to make a whopping 10 3-pointers. As

a team, the Blue Devils were 13 of 28 from beyond the arc.

“They obviously are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the

country,” Hamilton said. “They have two kids that are tremendously

skilled in the lane (Mason and brother Miles Plumlee). We had a difficult job

keeping them out of the lane.

“We did a decent job defending the (two-point shots), but we allowed them

to do what they do best and knock down 3s. It was very difficult for us to get

over the hump.”

Despite Duke’s accuracy and FSU’s lack of precision, the Seminoles still had

their chances late. FSU twice trailed by three points in the final five minutes,

but couldn’t close the gap on Duke (24-4, 11-2 ACC).

Sixteenth-ranked FSU (19-8, 10-3) had won 10 of 11 games coming into Thursday’s

contest, but missed a chance to close the gap on North Carolina and Duke, both tied

atop the ACC at 11-2.

FSU players have done a good job not getting too high after the big wins, and

too low after the losses to the likes of Princeton and Boston College.

Now, the Seminoles must regroup for a tough road game at Miami on Sunday — the first

of their final three regular-season games.

“We got to forget about this game,” said FSU’s Michael Snaer, who had

a team-high 18 points. “The biggest thing that I saw from our guys is

nobody is just too down. We know that this was a hard-fought game and we know

that we have so much more at stake than to worry about this loss. Nobody is

just moping around.”

There was plenty of excitement in the stands, as a capacity crowd of 12,100

filled the Civic Center and tried to will FSU to another win over a top-five

team.

FSU had only lost one home game all season — a triple-overtime loss to

Princeton in late December — and the good times had been rolling, for the most

part, ever since. Plus, the program’s history of delivering upsets fueled the

anticipation of the Duke-FSU matchup.

FSU has upset a top-five team nine times since February 2003. No team has felt

the disappointment more than Duke, which has suffered four of those losses

(including Seminoles wins over the Blue Devils in January 2011 in Tallahassee

and Jan. 22 of this season in Durham, NC).

“The crowd was great,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “It was

an unbelievable atmosphere. … For Florida State fans, it wasn’t as good as the

game in Durham. But I think it was played at an even higher level. Both teams

have gotten better.”

The two teams will be among the favorites to win the ACC tournament in Atlanta

in two weeks. As tight as the first two rounds were, Duke-FSU could feature a

third matchup in March.

“They’re as good as anybody we’ve played,” Krzyzewski said.

“They’ll be legit — they still have a chance to win the regular season or

the tournament in Atlanta. They have a chance to win. We do, too.”