Numerous turnovers, bad shots, and bad decisions dug an early hole for FSU. For the first several possessions, the Seminoles tried to play Duke's game taking far too quick shots. FSU's motion offense was anything but as shots were taken either after just one pass or no pass at all.
Assessing his team's play, Leonard Hamilton credited Duke's defense that unsettled his young squad. "We just did not handle the defensive pressure by Duke tonight", Hamilton said. Hamilton stated the ‘Noles did not display the same confidence they had in the last few games. Obviously intimidated by the Cameron Indoor Stadium atmosphere, the Seminoles were impatient on offense making poor decision after poor decision.
Duke committed 21 total turnovers. That was the good news. The bad news was that the Seminoles committed 24 of the miscues. By the 12:30 mark of the first half, FSU had turned the ball over 8 times and finished the half with 14 turnovers.
And then there was the matter of rebounding. The final margin of 39-29 on the boards did not even remotely indicate how completely the Blue Devils outrebounded the ‘Noles. By the half, Duke held a 22-10 margin over the visitors. Collecting defensive or offensive rebounds was not a problem for the Devils as they just relentlessly attacked the basket on every possession.
Leading the way in that rebounding category was freshman Shelden Williams. His 17 total rebounds, 6 offensive, complemented very nicely his 12 points and 4 blocked shots. Dahntay Jones added 14. Daniel Ewing and Chris Duhon had 12 and 10 points respectively.
Despite the clobbering, a most pleasant surprise was the career high of Mike Mathews. The senior led all scorers with 18 points all in the second half connecting on 7 of 9 shots. Mathews benefited from foul trouble for Trevor Harvey and ineffective play by Adam Waleskowski giving him the most playing time he has seen all season with 21 minutes. He also pulled down four rebounds and added four blocked shots giving him 98 blocks for his career.
After a bad pass by Waleskowski, Shavlik Randolph was fouled on the fast break. His two free throws gave Duke a 13-2 lead 5:13 into the game. Hamilton called a thirty-second timeout to regroup. The timeout produced a three-pointer and an offensive putback both by Richardson. Duke led 15-7 with 12:30 remaining in the half.
With Harvey and Waleskowski not having much success, Hamilton inserted a smaller lineup with Richardson playing center to attempt to counter Duke's quickness. Seven points later in a minute ended that combination.
Reinserting Harvey and Waleskowski didn't solve the difficulties either. Following his two free throws, Jones curled around a double screen for a clear lane to the basket and a slam-dunk. Running the same play again, FSU double teamed Jones and forgot about Williams who laid the ball in for a 28-7 Blue Devil lead.
Duke built the lead to 23 points at 35-12. A three-pointer from the right wing by Pickett closed the score to 40-20 at the half.
While Duke connected on 43% of their shots in the first half, Florida State had trouble getting shots to go down. Nervous with their shots, FSU shot a cold 29% from the floor.
It did not get any better over the first few minutes in the second half. Harvey committed his forth foul just twenty-nine seconds into the half. Duke kept the pressure on building a twenty-six-point lead, 57-31, on Ewing's three from above the key. The only real scoring threat FSU could muster was from Mathews with six points.
Florida State managed to avoid a total route with Mathews' hot shooting and a lapse of focus by the Blue Devils. Duke sank only three baskets over the last 6:32.
That allowed the Seminoles to improve their shooting to a respectable 41% from the floor while holding Duke 39% for the game.
Once again the ‘Noles were on the short end of the stick at the free throw line. Duke took 28 trips to the line making 24. Florida State connected on only 8 of 15 charity shots.
Florida State finishes the regular season with a 13-14 overall mark and 4-12 in league competition. It was not quite the record Hamilton was looking for. However, Hamilton stated he plans to reach the goal to be competitive and be a team of significance in the ACC. Overall Hamilton has been pleased with his team's effort over the season.
Still positive following the loss Hamilton looks forward to playing some more basketball this season. That won't take place until next Thursday with the play-in game of the ACC tournament. With a logjam of teams just above the Seminoles, the exact opponent may not be known after Duke visits the North Carolina Tarheels on Sunday.