Terrapins toasted, now on to Durham

Few basketball fans are expecting Florida State to beat North Carolina and Duke in the span of eight days, but Xavier Gibson and Co. have the size and strength to give the Blue Devils a game.

This time, there was no first-half surge, no early second-half knockout.

But it ended the same way for the Seminoles, who followed their shocking blowout win Jan. 14 against North Carolina by cruising past Maryland 84-70 on Tuesday night at FSU's Tucker Center.

In backing up their revival win against the Tar Heels, the Seminoles (12-6, 3-1 in ACC) can hit the road with more confidence and better vibes heading into Saturday's game against Duke. They will make a return trip to Tobacco Road next week to face Wake Forest. Realistically, if the Seminoles can split the two road games, they would be in good shape nearing the midpoint of ACC play.

Florida State's dubious history at Duke -- only two wins there -- doesn't suggest another shocker. But the Seminoles do match up well in the frontcourt against the Blue Devils, especially with 27-year-old forward Bernard James. Add in Okaro White and Xavier Gibson, and the Seminoles do have some shot blockers and rebounders to counter Duke.

James had one of his top scoring efforts of the season against Maryland with 17 points. The Terrapins led for just seven seconds the entire game, after Alex Len connected on a jumper with 17:25 remaining for a 42-40 lead.

FSU's Luke Loucks buried a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, and the 'Noles never trailed again. It was the first time, however, that Florida State had trailed in an ACC game since its league-opening loss at Clemson.

After Loucks' hoop, defense took over, and both teams went on extended scoring droughts until Florida State used a 17-3 run to take a comfortable lead midway through the second half.

At Duke, the key for FSU will be to avoid bad possessions and scoring droughts, which have been the teams' two ills of this season. The Seminoles took care of the ball well against Maryland, committing just nine turnovers. It's something that will be essential in front of a loud, hostile crowd and against the Blue Devils' aggressive man-to-man press.

TRENDING: Meet the new FSU, the sudden scoring machine. The Seminoles, who looked so inept, so futile much of the season on offense, have suddenly exploded for 174 points in the last two games. It's the first time the 'Noles have scored at least 80 points in back-to-back ACC games in five years.

"We are just learning how to play within ourselves," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I think we are moving the ball little better. We are involving more people. ... We cut down our turnovers."

The Seminoles committed only nine turnovers against Maryland after entering the game with an 18-turnover average. The backcourt has been far more productive than at any other point this season, which has enabled Florida State to set up its strength by slashing to the basket more often.


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