Perhaps the presence of Redick provided the inspiration for Duke as the Blue Devils started the game extremely fast, jumping out to a 27-10 lead in the first 10 minutes of the contest behind a hot shooting performance from Paulus, who hit his first five shots of the night. Unfortunately as the game wound down the Blue Devils' offense once again became ineffective down the stretch as the Blue Devils would give everyone of those 17 point back, and then some.
After coping with the initial wave of emotion from Duke the Seminoles began to find their footing behind ACC Player of the Year candidate Al Thornton, rallying from a 17 point deficit to cut the lead to just 36-33 at intermission.
Not only was Thornton delivering the points, he was also racking up fouls on the Blue Devil defenders, saddling both Josh McRoberts and Lance Thomas with three fouls before the under four minute media timeout in the first half. Without McRoberts in the middle, the Duke offense sputtered to nearly a standstill - hitting just one field goal during a six minute stretch that saw the Seminoles reel off an 18-4 run during that time. In total the Blue Devils would be out-scored 23-9 over the half's final 9:47.
The negative end to the first half was immediate forgotten by the capacity crowd as Redick took the podium at center court to say a few words as his number was unveiled in the rafters. "It's great to be home," Redick told the crowd. "Coach K asked me what I wanted personally from my time at Duke during my freshman year. I looked at him as an 18 year old kid and said, I want my jersey to hang in the rafters of Cameron."
Following Redick's ceremony the Blue Devils returned to the court hoping to reverse the momentum that had turned so decidedly against them in those final moments of the half. It wasn't to be as the Seminoles immediately tied the game on a Tony Douglas perimeter jumper before Thornton went right to the rim for the first Florida State lead of hte night at 38-36 just 90 seconds into the second half. The lead would swell to as many as five at 45-40 as the Seminoles used a spark from Jerrell Allen to build and press their athleticism advantage on the perimeter.
At that point the Duke defense seemed to rally, forcing three turnovers in four possessions which Duke converted into points, reclaiming the lead on a DeMarcus Nelson three from the left wing to make it 48-47 at the 13:26 mark. Duke would maintain a slim lead until Paulus was whistled for a silly technical foul with just under 10 minutes remaining and Duke leading 52-49 after the Blue Devil captain came up after battling for a loose ball and began screaming at the Seminole player in front of the official. The Seminoles hit both technical free throws and would then take the lead on a Jason Rich lay-up with 8:55 remaining.
Florida State wouldn't trail again, and would push the lead to as many as six when Ryan Reed converted a loose ball in the paint to make it 68-62 at the 3:08 mark of the second half. Still, Duke rallied, and had a chance to take the lead with a minute remaining, but DeMarcus Nelson missed a driving attempt to the hoop, and the Seminoles called timeout with 50.4 seconds remaining. After Florida State missed their last field goal attempt, the Blue Devils had a final chance to win.
After getting over midcourt, the Blue Devil offense forced Mike Krzyzewksi to call timeout with 7.7 seconds remaining. Off the inbounds pass Paulus drove to the basket but missed. However, the held ball on the ensuing rebounded game Duke yet another chance. After a lob to McRoberts, the 6'10 sophomore clanked his shot attempt off the back iron and the follow attempt by Nelson rimmed out as the Seminoles earned their first victory in Cameron in 16 games.
The loss leaves Duke extremely vulnerable as the second half of the ACC schedule kicks in. The Blue Devils will face an extremely talented North Carolina team on Wednesday before road games with Maryland and Boston College.
Nelson finished with 16 points and six rebounds for Duke, while McRoberts added 12 points, five rebounds, four blocks. Freshman Jon Scheyer, however, continued to struggle for the second straight game - logging nine points, but attempting just three field goal attempts - a season low.