Florida State upsets No. 1 Blue Devils
Duke is undefeated no more. And once again, it was a trip to Tallahassee that did in the Blue Devils.
Derwin Kitchen scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and unranked Florida State pulled off its latest upset of No. 1 Duke, snapping the Blue Devils' 25-game winning streak with a 66-61 victory Wednesday night.
"Tonight wasn't about us being bad," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They were really good. They played with a verve."
Chris Singleton added 18 points for Florida State (12-5, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which made five free throws in the final 33 seconds to hold off the defending national champions.
It was the third time since 2002 that the Seminoles beat a top-ranked Duke team at home.
"We came together tonight," Singleton said. "It just feels good. If we can beat them we can beat anybody."
The Blue Devils (15-1, 2-1) hadn't lost since a 79-72 setback on March 3, 2010, at Maryland. From there, they went on to win the ACC and NCAA tournaments for their fourth national title.
The 25-game winning streak was the second-longest in Duke history.
"We have not been in a game like that (this season). They knocked us back," Krzyzewski said, praising Florida State's tenacity and athleticism. "You just learn from the experience. We have a long way to go."
The Seminoles were up 28-24 at halftime and by as many as 11 early in the second half, but the game was tight to the finish.
Kyle Singler scored 20 points and Nolan Smith had 19 for the Blue Devils, who missed their first 10 3-point attempts and shot 31.1 percent overall, ending their dreams of a perfect season.
It was the fourth time Florida State has defeated a top-ranked team, including in 2002 and 2006 against Duke. FSU fans rushed the floor following the final buzzer, making for a garnet-and-gold mob scene at center court, and one was still climbing on the rim 15 minutes after the game ended.
After successive losses to Auburn and Virginia Tech last week, Florida State players met Tuesday night in search of answers.
"We've had some kinks and some problems earlier in the season," center Bernard James said. "I think we've figured some stuff out in the last couple practices we had, creating for each other."
Every time Duke got close, Kitchen had an answer.
"I just took what they gave me and tried to be as aggressive as possible," he said. "When I'm more aggressive we're a better team than when I'm just sitting back passing the ball all the time."
Kitchen, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, also led the Seminoles with a team-high 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
"He went into beast mode," James said.
Singleton's two free throws with 33 seconds left gave the Seminoles a 63-58 lead, but Smith's 3-pointer chopped the Duke deficit to two with 26.9 seconds remaining.
That was as close as the Blue Devils got. Michael Snaer hit a pair of free throws and Okaro White added another to seal it after Duke misfired at the other end.
Duke came into the game averaging nearly 88 points, having outscored its opponents by just under 25 per game this season.
"Our guys stuck with our game plan," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "They maintained their poise. We hit the big free throws down the stretch. I hope they understand now exactly the way they have to play in order to be successful."
Smith's 3 with 2:26 left pulled Duke to 59-58, but Kitchen countered with a baseline pull-up to give Florida State a 61-58 edge with 2:01 to go.
Singler missed a 3-pointer with a minute remaining that would've tied the score.
Singler didn't get his first field goal until the opening minute of the second half on a goaltending call on Singleton, but then heated up quickly, hitting five of his next six shots from 3-point distance to help wipe out Florida State's 40-29 cushion early in the second half.
Duke caught up with a 13-2 run and tied it at 42 on Andre Dawkins' three free throws after being fouled by Singleton on a 3-pointer. Kitchen answered again, this time with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle, and Duke could never get the lead.
James put back a pair of offensive rebounds in the final 1:15 of the first half to give Florida State a 28-24 lead at the break.
Duke came into the game shooting just below 50 percent for the season, but went only 9 of 32 for a 28.1 percent effort in the first half against Florida State's rangy defense.
"They're very fundamentally sound. They play outstanding defense and they're committed to it," Krzyzewski said. "Their defense just dominated our offense for about 25 minutes in the ballgame."
Florida State's 11-6 lead on Singleton's jumper was the largest either team had in a first half that featured eight lead changes and seven ties.
Duke's biggest lead was three points, 16-13 and 24-21.