From the Stands: Duke-56, Florida St-49

Though it wasn't pretty the Blue Devils managed to improve to 17-1 overall and 6-0 in the ACC with a 56-49 victory over Florida State Thursday night in Cameron thanks to some late game heroics from Chris Duhon and Sean Dockery. <I>TheDevilsDen.com</I> takes a look at what went right, wrong, and looks forward to this weekend.

What Went Right:

With the game on the line Duke got a huge lift from its senior captain. Duhon's shot with under a minute remaining broke a scoreless streak of nearly nine minutes, and put the game out of reach for the Seminoles. What made it better was that the senior had hit just three of his 11 shot attempts prior, while the team was suffering through a nine minute scoreless drought.

Over the course of the game Duke suffered through a pair of long scoreless periods, combining for over 15 minutes of no field goals for the game. Those droughts coupled with a 20-of-52 night shooting the basketball overall should have equaled the end of the various winning streaks.

However the defense played well enough to offset the offensive woes, and the Blue Devils got some lucky bounces as Florida State also caught the cold shooting bug, going just 18-of-61 from the fields. Duke did manage to force 17 turnovers on the night (while committing just 12), and blocked seven shots.

Perhaps it was just one of those nights when things just weren't going right, or perhaps it was a lack of focus, or maybe just fatigue that caused the team to look out of sync. No matter what happened, it's good to see this team not back down from an obviously fired up opponent and gut out a win. It's something they'll have to do come March.

What Went Wrong:

For what ever reason the Blue Devils just looked flat tonight. The effort was there defensively, but offensively this looked like the Duke team that started the season, not the nation's best, or top rated squad.

The most likely culprit here is tired legs and just getting worn down in general. Coach K mentioned as much in the post game press conference.

Offensively everyone who played tonight found their jump shooting ability leave them at one time or another. Some of the credit has to go to Florida State's defensive intensity, though some of the struggles were due to Duke simply not executing on the offensive end. Too often the Devils would run the clock down under eight seconds only to freeze and settle for an off balance shot or rushed prayer that was, more often than not, only a 50/50 chance to draw iron.

Obviously it was effective in running the time off, but the execution of the half court offense has to be something the coaching staff will look to work on in the coming days.

Also the Blue Devils found themselves being owned on the offensive glass thanks to Florida State's relentless pressure. The final tally on the boards was FSU-41, Duke-32. What is really disturbing is the Seminoles had nearly as many offensive rebounds (20) as the Blue Devils did defensive.

Further evidence that things seemed to just be off on this night centered around the free throw line where, minus Redick's usual 100% showing, Duke shot just 4-of-10 from the charity stripe. Again chalk it up to one of those nights apparently.

Player of the Game:

Redick's 24 points get the nod over Duhon's clutch performance on this night as the 6-foot-4 sharp shooter was one of the only Blue Devils (along with Shavlik Randolph) to hit consistently from the floor – going 7-of-15 overall and 4-of-10 from three point land.

Looking Ahead:

There's no time to focus on the offensive problems encountered tonight with a trip to Atlanta coming. Georgia Tech is nothing, if not a gifted offensive team with a number of weapons. The Jackets have already proven the ability to beat anyone on a given night, and the surroundings won't be friendly to Blue Devil kind in the "Thriller Dome" this weekend.

For Duke to be successful you'd think there will need to be a more conscience effort to get the ball inside to Shelden Williams, who didn't take one shot tonight, and Shavlik Randolph, who converted all four of his field goal attempts. The sophomore duo will certainly be relied upon to rebound the ball as there is no shortage of hungry, high flying ball hawks running for Paul Hewitt this season.

It'll certainly be a test for this young team, because there is no time to kick back and relax at this point.


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