Preview: Duke (16-3) v. Florida St (15-4)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Seminoles who will tip off tonight in Cameron Indoor Stadium beginning at 9:00 PM EST. The game will be nationally televised by ESPN.


Duke (16-3) vs Florida State (15-4)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPN / Tip: 9:00 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference:  ACC
Nickname:  Seminoles
Colors: Garnet and Gold 
Head Coach: Leonard Hamiltion (8th season)
Career Record at Florida State: 146-100 

Projected Starters:
31 Chris Singleton (6-9, 230, So.) – 11.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg
42 Ryan Reid (6-9, 235, Sr.) – 7.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg
32 Solomon Alabi (7-1, 250, So.) – 12.6 ppg, 2.6 bpg
 4 Deividas Dulkys (6-5, 195, So.) – 10.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg
22 Derwin Kitchen (6-4, 200, Jr.) - 8.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg

Key Reserves:
 2 Jordan DeMercy (6-7, 215, Jr.) – 3.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
 3 Luke Loucks (6-5, 195, So.) – 3.1 ppg, 2.8 apg
 1 Xavier Gibson (6-11, 240, So.) – 5.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg
21 Michael Snear (6-5, 200, Fr.) - 8.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Story Lines For Florida State:

How They Got Here:
The Seminoles enter Cameron Indoor Stadium having won consecutive conference games over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech - both at home. Prior to the two game win streak the 'Noles dropped back to back contests to NC State and Maryland. The loss to the Terps snapped a seven game win streak that included victories over Auburn and Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Meanwhile the Blue Devils enter Wednesday night's game after earning their first true road win of the season by beating Clemson 60-47. Prior to the win over the Tigers, Duke had failed by double figures to NC State in Raleigh.

Series History:
Duke owns a 29-6 advantage in the all-time series. The most recent match-up came in the 2009 ACC Tournament Championship game where Duke came away with a 79-69 victory. The Seminoles haven't beaten the Blue Devils since the 2007 season when they earned a 68-67 decision at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The last time the two teams met in Durham the Blue Devils earned a three point win. Since that time the Blue Devils have won four straight in the series. Under Coach Hamilton the 'Noles are 3-8 against the Blue Devils.

Florida State is one of just three teams to win in Durham over the last three seasons. The Seminoles' win in 2007 was the first ever for the program in Cameron Indoor. Since the start of the 2006-2007 season only Maryland and North Carolina (twice) have won in Durham.

Injury Report:
Both teams enter Wednesday night's game relatively healthy.

'Noles Play Lockdown Defense
Florida State comes into Cameron sporting one of the best defensive squads in the conference and the country. It's been more than two years since an opponent was able to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, and enters the game leading the nation in field goal percentage defense at 35.5% per game. The best offensive performance against FSU came courtesy of Maryland four games ago. The Terrapins hit 29-of-60 shots from the field (.468) and 10-of-16 from the perimeter (.625) to claim a 77-68 victory.

The defensive pressure begins with Chris Singleton who leads the conference in steals (2.2) and ranks fourth in blocks per game at 1.7 per contest. Only five players have finished the season leading the ACC in both categories. The most recent was Wake Forest's Josh Howard during 2002-2003. The other three times a player accomplished that, they were in Duke uniforms in the form of Shane Battier (1999-2000 & 2000-2001) and Christian Laettner (1990-1991). Both times Battier won National Defensive Player of the Year honors.

The team enters the game ranked second in the ACC in points per game allowed at 60.2 points per game. 10 of the 19 opponents have not reached the 60 point mark and only four teams have scored more than 70 points per game.

Tough Defense Leads To Close Games:
Should the Seminoles and Blue Devils battle late into the second half with the outcome still in doubt, it'll be a familiar and comfortable surroundings for Coach Hamilton's group. Florida State have won six games this season by five points or fewer or in overtime. In those close situations FSU is a safe bet to come away with a result.

In those six games this season those results have come thanks to a late game run which allowed Florida State to rally and take a final lead. To beat Marquette in November the Seminoles used a 23-12 spurt over the last 10 minutes to turn a 44-34 deficit into a 57-56 victory. In their game in Atlanta the Seminoles out-scored the Jackets 12-5 in overtime. In the rematch in Tallahassee the Seminoles trailed 61-60 with just over four minutes to go before an 8-5 run finished the game.

A season ago the Seminoles led the NCAA in games decided by four points or less - winning 11 of 14 such contests.

Ranked Team Records:
The Blue Devils enter the game ranked seventh and eighth in the various polls. The Seminoles have become used to facing ranked teams and, more importantly, earning victories against them. In Hamilton's eight seasons the Seminoles have won 17 times against teams appearing the weekly top 25. Three of those teams were Duke squads - in 2007 (when Duke was ranked eighth), in 2006 (when Duke was ranked No.1), and in 2003 (when Duke was ranked 5th).

Watch Out For...
Sophomore big man Solomon Alabi is a player who entered the ACC as a highly ranked prospect - a five star recruit and the nation's No. 5 center according to Scout.com. Since that time he's blossomed into a likely high NBA Draft pick whenever he chooses to take the next step. In 64 career games he's blocked 133 shots (2.1 blocks per game). He enters Wednesday's game with at least one blocked shot in 11 straight contests. Since December 11th he's taken his defense up a notch - blocking 30 shots over that time period (11 games).

Offensively the 7'1 prospect has improved and is shooting a career best 59.3 percent from the field. That would be among the conference leaders, but Alabi has yet to attempt the minimum number of shots required to qualify for the statistical rankings.

Fearless Prediction(s)
The Seminoles are one of the few teams in the conference who will be able to match Duke's size in and around the post and on the wing. Such a match up may very well help a player like Kyle Singler who will be able to take his defender to the perimeter and off the bounce easier than if he was facing a 6'5 traditional wing forward. Both teams play tough defense and this game probably won't be overly attractive in terms of being fast paced and high scoring. Both Singler and Jon Scheyer have had terrific games against the Seminoles and Duke will need more from both, but will also need help from Nolan Smith who essentially carried his team to victory at Clemson. Duke has the offensive advantage on the perimeter, while the Noles will probably control the paint and the glass. If the Blue Devils can get help from the Plumlees and Brian Zoubek - on the glass first - and converting broken plays and offensive boards, Duke should be able to win win a fifth conference game and climb up the standings.

Prediction:

Duke 74
Florida State 67


Blue Devil Digest Top Stories