Forget the finesse stuff that's often associated with Duke. Heading into what could be one of those physical confrontations with Georgetown on Saturday, the Blue Devils might have gone through the ideal primer.
They slugged it out with Florida State in grind-it-out fashion, overcoming a 10-rebound deficit in a 70-56 home victory Wednesday night.
"We had to play them strong," Duke forward Lance Thomas said. "It was a rough game. I love games like that because it makes you play to exhaustion."
It was far from a thing of beauty in the only regular-season meeting between last year's ACC Tournament finalists.
"We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game," Duke forward Kyle Singler said. "We're going to have to do that throughout the whole season."
The non-league matchup with Georgetown marks Duke's third road game of the month against a nationally ranked team. It's also the team's first visit to Washington's downtown arena since the Blue Devils were eliminated in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament by West Virginia.
DUKE 70, FLORIDA STATE 56: Duke's offense experienced some rough patches, but the Blue Devils had enough thanks to 22 points from Jon Scheyer and 20 points from Kyle Singler.
Duke opened a 51-35 lead in the second half before the Seminoles scored the next 12 points. During that spurt, the Blue Devils went 0-for-8 from the field and were charged with three turnovers, including the first of two second-half shot clock violations.
Still, Duke shot 43.1 percent (25-for-58) from the field against Florida State's defense which entered the game with a nation's-best 35.5 defensive field-goal percentage.
--G Nolan Smith, from Upper Marboro, Md., will return to the region for for Saturday's game against Georgetown. He's dealing with a personal issue because his grandfather died within the past week. He scored 11 points against Florida State, matching his second-lowest total of the season.
--F Miles Plumlee needed six staples in his head to stop bleeding from a second-half injury against Florida State. He scored his only points on a dunk with 1:29, marking his third game in a row without scoring more than two points.
--G Andre Dawkins played relatively early in the first half of the game against Florida State after not picking up any game action in the previous game at Clemson. The freshman reserve finished with only nine minutes, but he scored on one of his two 3-point shots. He hadn't scored since the Jan. 17 game against Wake Forest.
ON THE SPOT: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has mentioned the fatigue topic again heading into a weekend game at Georgetown, which hasn't played since Monday night. The Blue Devils didn't finish their Wednesday night game until after 11 p.m. and must make the trip to Washington for the early afternoon tip-off Saturday against Georgetown. It sizes up as another of those physical types of games. Given the quick turnaround, that might not bode well for the Blue Devils, but they should be accustomed to such games.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"There is no question that teams gain confidence after a win. This is a really big win for us." -- Coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team improved to 4-1 this season against nationally ranked teams after winning Jan. 23 at Clemson.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: The Blue Devils have avoided slides this season, recovering from their two three with solid victories, including the Jan. 23 win at Clemson. They've benefited from consistent backcourt play from G Jon Scheyer and G Nolan Smith. The guards not only have been their leading scorers, but they've provided stability at just about every turn.
- Duke 90, Wake Forest 70
- North Carolina State 88, Duke 74
- Duke 60, Clemson 47
- Duke 70, Florida State 56
- at Georgetown, Saturday, Jan. 30
- Georgia Tech, Thursday, Feb. 4
- at Boston College, Saturday, Feb. 6
- at North Carolina, Wednesday, Feb. 10
IN FOCUS: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski likes playing Saturday games because it gives his team a full day off on the Sunday that follows. That particularly works out well when the Blue Devils win on Saturday, as they did most recently at Clemson. Duke is two games into a stretch on the schedule that calls for five road games in a seven-game span so any little bit of time to rest is crucial at this juncture.
--G Jon Scheyer is staying out of foul trouble, a key factor as he's on the court most of the time. He played 40 minutes Jan. 23 at Clemson, picking up one foul. He hasn't had more than two fouls in any game this season. That was the case even when picking up two fouls in the first eight minutes against Wake Forest.
--F Lance Thomas scored a season-high 13 points against Clemson. But coach Mike Krzyzewski was equally impressed with what Thomas did to begin possessions. He was assigned to inbound the ball against Clemson's press and he had only one turnover in the game.
--F Miles Plumlee has taken a dip on the offensive end in the past two games. He has taken a total of four shots from the field. After he went scoreless at North Carolina State, he had two points at Clemson. That two-game span followed the sophomore's career-high 19-point outing against Wake Forest. He has seven double-figure scoring games this season and they've all come at home.