Preview: Duke (14-0) v. FSU (10-8)

After cruising past Miami on Wednesday, the Blue Devils return to action Saturday afternoon against Florida State. The Seminoles come into the game on the heels of a huge victory over No.3 ranked Wake Forest in their last game. Duke certainly knows the dangers of the ‘Noles home court, having lost two of their last three times in Tallahassee. <I>TheDevilsDen.com</I> runs down the match up.

Last year the Seminoles appeared to be yet another ACC team heading to the big dance as midway through the conference season FSU found itself 10 games over .500 and breaking even in the early conference slate. Then a late season slump attacked, and the ‘Noles would win just one more game the rest of the way, and ultimately miss the NCAA Tournament.

The off season saw the departure of the team's best player and leader, Tim Pickett. As a fifth year senior, the former Seminole led his team in scoring, was second in rebounding and assists, and was good enough for the All-Defensive team in the conference. Despite the loss of Picket, the Seminoles have a roster full of talented players and big time athletes.

Florida State has been up and down this year, proving against Wake Forest they can beat anyone on any given night. However this is the same team that dropped games to teams like Clemson, Florida International, and Texas A&M Corpus Christie.

The Blue Devils enter the game with a perfect 14-0 mark, but the Seminoles aren't likely to be impressed. Florida State has beaten Duke before, and have already taken down one of the nation's best teams in Wake Forest. For Coach K's group to maintain their early season perfection, the offense will need to maintain the top form shown against Miami, while the defense will have to be turned up a few notches from the win over the Hurricanes.

Meet the Seminoles

C- Alexander Johnson (6'10, 250, SO) – a highly rated recruit that delivered on some of his promise as a freshman, averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game.

A terrific athlete for being such a big kid, Johnson has a chiseled frame and good footwork inside. Offensively he's good from 10 feet in and has the ability to finish strong at the rim. Defensively he still has trouble keeping players who are the same size honest, and has been known to get into foul trouble rather quickly. Given Florida State's deep bench, Johnson has only averaged five field goal attempts per game.

F- Adam Waleskowski (6'8, 240, SR) – Remember by many Duke fans as the guy who cemented Duke's first loss at FSU, two years ago, with a dunk as time ran out, Waleskowski has finally earned a solidified starting spot in his final season.

A big bodied power forward who was the team's best rebounder and shot blocker a year ago, the Ohio native has continued to be a workhorse on the boards as a senior. However, he's also been given a chance to play a bigger role in the offense this year and is producing nicely.

Averaging 9.4 points (second on the team) and 5.1 boards per game, Waleskowski isn't has improved his perimeter shooting, and can hit the open jumper if left alone on the perimeter. He's also proven to be somewhat explosive when given a chance, which he proved with a 23 point, 14 rebound performance in an early season loss to Maryland

Recently he's begun to struggle on both ends of the floor, but more especially on the offensive side of things where he's logged just 16 points and 11 rebounds in his last three games.

Andrew Wilson (6'6, 205, SR) – the senior from Georgia has assumed Picket's roles as the team's top on the ball defender, and has settled into that role with ease. On the season he's averaging just 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds, but his real value is defending the opposition's best wing scoring option.

Against Justin Gray of Wake, Wilson was very good, holding the Deacon leader to just 3-of-16 from the field. Offensively he's an above average three pointer who isn't afraid to pull the trigger from the perimeter if given the chance, though he's more comfortable deferring to teammates.

G- Von Wafer (6'5, 210, SO) – Based on talent alone, Wafer is one of the best pure scorers in the entire ACC. Head coach Leonard Hamilton wanted him to assume more of a leadership role as a sophomore, and so far the Virginia native has embraced that role.

On the year he's averaging a team best 13.8 points while adding 2.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. He leads the Seminoles in minutes played, and is shooting a lights out 43% from the perimeter. If there was any doubt that the talented sophomore is among the league's best players, it was erased when he torched Wake Forest for a career high 30 points including 7-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Including the Wake Forest game, Wafer is averaging a staggering 27.5 points per game over his last two (Wake, Miami), and has shot a sizzling 12-of-22 from the perimeter.

(5'11, 178, JR) – a junior who has been a serviceable role player until this season, Galloway's abilities don't overly wow anyone, but he has been about as solid as his coaches have asked him to be as the team's only true point guard on the roster.

This year he's averaging just over six points and nearly three assists while playing just over half a game for Hamilton, and after taking care of the ball relatively well in his first two seasons, the extended playing time has resulted in just a 1.2/1 assist to turnover ratio after that statistic was over 2/1 last year.

Offensively he's a good shooter from the perimeter (42%), and is coming off his best game of the season against Wake. In fact, along with Wafer, Galloway was the driving force in the Seminoles' upset. He connected on 3-of-5 perimeter jumpers, while hitting 8-of-11 overall from the field. He also hit the boards very hard, coming up with a career best eight rebounds, while dishing out four assists. If left open against Duke, he's capable of hurting the Blue Devils.

The Reserves

One thing Coach Hamilton has at his disposal is a surplus of athletic reserves. Leading the charge off the pine is former McDonalds All-American and Raleigh native Anthony Richardson (6'8, 205, SR), who has been somewhat of a disappointment after such lofty expectations out of high school. True, he has shown flashes of greatness, but his frustrating inconsistency has reduced him from starter in his early years to just 15 minutes per game as a senior that yield 6 points and four boards per game. Next comes Al Thornton, a 6'7, 210 pound sophomore who has tremendous potential and is beginning to live up to that this year. A long and very athletic prospect, Thornton is third on the team in scoring and rebounding while embracing his sixth man role. Despite his thin frame, he's unafraid of battling on the boards, and gave the Deacons fits Tuesday (26 points and 10 rebounds). JUCO transfer and Argentine national Diego Romero red-shirted last year, but has enough potential to and natural skills to be an impact big man in the ACC. If only he had more time to adjust to the speed and style of play, Romero could be something special, though as a senior he's getting under 10 minutes per game. The top backcourt reserve is highly rated freshman Isaiah Swann, who prepped at Hargrave Military last year and averaged nearly 24 points and nine assists as a converted combo guard.

Game Notes:
courtesy of Duke Sports Information

*- Duke (14-0, 4-0 ACC), ranked fourth in the nation by the AP and by ESPN/USA Today, faces Florida State (10-8, 2-3) on Jan. 22 in the Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee, Fla. Tip-off is set for 6:00 PM.

*- This will mark the 28th meeting between Duke and Florida State with the Blue Devils leading the all-time series, 23-4. Since the Seminoles joined the ACC, Duke has won 21 of 25 meetings between the two schools. Florida State has won two of the past three games vs. Duke in the Leon County Civic Center. Under Mike Krzyzewski, Duke is 21-3 vs. Florida State.

*- Duke has now started a season 14-0 three times in 25 seasons under Mike Krzyzewski, including 2004-05

*- After scoring 60.5 points vs. Clemson and Princeton at home on Jan. 5 and 8, respectively, the Blue Devils have averaged 85.0 points in their last four wins over Temple, N.C. State, Virginia and Miami

*- Duke has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than .500 from the field this season. In nine of 14 games, opponents have shot less than .400 from the floor against the Blue Devils' defense.

*- In his last two games, Shelden Williams averaged 23.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocked shots.

*- With its 92-83 win at Miami on Jan. 19, Duke has won 129 of its last 156 games outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium, including victories in 42 of its last 53 ACC road games.

Betting Line:

Duke by 7.5

Prediction

Duke-86
Florida State-83


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