Preview: Duke (20-7) v. Florida State (16-11)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Seminoles who will tip off on Thursday night at 7:00 PM EST in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES

16-11 Overall, 6-9 Conference 

PROJECTED STARTERS

C- 05 Boris Bojanovsky (6.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
G- 04 Dwayne Bacon (15.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
G- 22 Xavier Rathan-Mayes (11.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
G- 15 Malik Beasley (16.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
G- 32 Montay Brandon (3.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)

LINKS: ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS 

STAR WATCH

Much like Duke, the most talented players on the Florida State roster are freshmen.  The Blue Devils get tremendous production from 6’9 Brandon Ingram while the Seminoles are getting more than 16 points and five rebounds from 6’5 Malik Beasley a former four star prospect and No. 52 overall prospect in the class of 2015 according to Scout.com.  Florida State is also getting 15.7 points and 5.7 boards from 6-foot-7 guard Dwayne Bacon, a former McDonalds All-American out of Oak Hill Academy.  

The Seminole duo is the highest scoring freshman pairing in conference history and the highest scoring pair of newcomers in the nation. The combined 31.9 points per game are more than Mark Price (20.3 ppg) and John Salley (11.5 ppg) did as freshmen at Georgia Tech in 1983 (31.8 ppg).

THE STORYLINES

DIFFERING DEPTHS

Much has been made of Duke’s lack of depth in recent games with the peak coming in the loss to Louisville when the Blue Devils had just six regular players available after Matt Jones was injured against North Carolina.  That number could have been reduced to five after Derryck Thornton suffered a shoulder injury against the Cardinals.  But, as of Monday, the team expects both Jones and Thornton to be available of Thursday night’s game.  And, of course, there’s been a lot of discussion in recent days about the possible return of Amile Jefferson.  First it was Grayson Allen’s instagram post and then DukeBluePlanet posted this picture from Wednesday’s practice:

https://twitter.com/dukeblueplanet/status/702601281597272064

Could the senior big return and give Duke a full, eight man rotation? 

On the Florida State side Leonard Hamilton has played a regular rotation of 10 players led by his two freshmen each of whom gets more than 28 minutes per game.  In fact the Seminoles regularly play four players over 25 minutes, and split the remainder of minutes amongst five more players.  

SEMINOLES ARE STRUGGLING

Florida State was considered somewhat of a dark horse pick to make some noise in the ACC this season.  However, Coach Hamilton’s program has stumbled of late and is in the midst of a four game losing streak.  A big factor in the recent streak has been the defense -  or lack thereof.   While the ‘Noles usually are one of the more athletic and long teams in the country, this year’s group is allowing teams to score more than 80 points per game while also shooting 51 percent from the floor and 46 percent from the perimeter.  In their most recent loss to Virginia Tech, the Hokies knocked down 11-of-19 from long range.  Duke, of course is averaging more than nine made three pointers per game in ACC play while hitting nearly 44 percent over the last half dozen games.

Notebook:

- Duke currently ranks seventh nationally in strength of schedule and 11th in the RPI per the NCAA.

- Mike Krzyzewski has led Duke to 20 or more wins in 20 consecutive seasons, becoming the first Division I men’s coach to accomplish the feat.

- Duke employs one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks, ranking 17th in the NCAA in scoring offense (82.4) and second the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (121.2). 

- Duke features two of the top six scorers in ACC play, as Grayson Allen (21.1) ranks second and Brandon Ingram (18.2) is sixth in league play.

- Duke averages 9.0 three-pointers per game overall and 9.3 per game in ACC play, both of which lead the league. Allen (60), Ingram (58) and Matt Jones (59) are bidding to become the first trio in Duke history to each make 70 threes in a season.

They Said It:

"I thought we played some pretty good basketball for about 34 minutes, but unfortunately the game is 40 minutes.” - Leonard Hamilton on his team’s loss to Virginia Tech

The Prediction

Duke returns home to host a Florida State team playing its final ACC road game of the season.  The Blue Devils’ strengths are the Seminoles weaknesses and that should be the theme of this game.  That means Duke will need to shoot well from the perimeter including Brandon Ingram who had a historically tough game against Louisville (committing 10 turnovers against just eight points scored).   Look for Allen to continue to roll offensively, and look for Ingram to get a lot of chances early as the focal point of the offense as Duke looks to get him started on the right foot.  If that happens, Coach K’s team will bounce back. 

Duke - 81
Florida State - 72


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