Duke (15-4, 4-2) – Florida State (13-5, 4-2) Preview
Randy Dunson & Brian Horace
January 25, 2014
Currently on a three-game winning streak, Duke returns to Cameron Indoor Stadium this Saturday to host Florida State at Noon in what could be a marquee game for the ACC. Both teams are 4-2 in the ACC so a move up in the standings for either team might be in the picture. The Blue Devils are in the midst of a 27-game winning streak in Cameron Indoor Stadium for the nation’s longest active streak. Duke is 11-0 at home this season after going 16-0 on Coach K Court during the 2012-13 season. Duke is outscoring opponents by an average of 20.6 points per game at home this season while holding six straight opponents to fewer than 70 points. Overall, Duke is 21st in the nation in PPG and 32nd in FG%. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 18 in the AP Poll and No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
The Florida State Seminoles have emerged as a bona fide contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference as well as for a March Madness bid as they boast one of the top defenses in the nation but still must find a lead go-to scorer if they are to be taken seriously as a true upper echelon team. The Seminoles game at Cameron Indoor Stadium marks their first game inside the historic arena since it earned a 76-73 win over the Blue Devils on February 2, 2012, on a buzzer-beating game-winning shot by three-time All-ACC selection Michael Snaer. The Seminoles enter Saturday’s game against Duke having won eight of their last 10 games since a 77-53 win over Jacksonville State with both losses during that stretch coming against Virginia. Florida State’s game at Duke is its third in the last four games on the road as the Seminoles begin their ACC schedule with five conference road games in its first eight ACC games of the year.
Team Seasons Thus Far
Florida State Seminoles
In its last outing, Florida State squared off with Notre Dame on Tuesday, January 21 and just barely got by the Fighting Irish 76-74 in ACC play. Ian Miller’s floater from the lane with four seconds to play delivered Florida State a pivotal ACC victory. Okaro White earned a double-double in the Seminoles win including 12 points and 11 rebounds. Aaron Thomas had a team-high 20 points and added four assists. Eric Atkins finished with a game-high 24 points and five assists for the Fighting Irish.
Florida State’s nucleus of senior guard Ian Miller, senior forward and All-American and All-ACC candidate Okaro White, sophomore guard Devon Bookert, senior forward Aaron Thomas, sophomore guard Montay Brandon, and a trio of seven-footers comprise one of the most experienced teams in the ACC with nearly 400 combined games played including 19 in the NCAA and ACC tournaments. Miller and White were starters on the Seminole’s 2012 ACC Championship team and have not forgotten what it takes to win championships. White is one of the top players in the ACC and certainly one of the most athletic in all of America and enters his final year in Tallahassee with the opportunity to expand his on-court repertoire.
The Seminoles’ top two scorers, Miller at 13.4 PPG and Thomas at 12.6 have both come off the bench in each of the Seminoles’ 18 games this season, though Thomas started against Notre Dame. Their usual starters include guards Brandon (8.7 PPG, 1.8 APG) and Devon Bookert (8.6 PPG, 3.0 APG), forwards Okaro White (12.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG) and Richard Gilchrist (4.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG), and sophomore center Boris Bojanovsky (6.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 63.4 FG%). The top two scorers (Thomas and White) account for 42.1 percent of the Seminoles points. Thomas has led the team in scoring in seven out of 18 games this season. White accounts for 42.3 percent of the team’s rebounds and has led the team in rebounding in 10 out of 18 games this season.
Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils made its last outing, a road win seem routine. Freshman forward Jabari Parker had 17 points and a season-high 15 rebounds Wednesday to lead No. 18 Duke past Miami 67-46. Of note, thanks to a 15-rebound effort from Parker, the Blue Devils outrebounded Miami 42-28 for their largest rebounding margin in ACC play, which allowed them to overcome a poor shooting night. Duke outscored Miami 22-7 on second-chance points. The Blue Devils used the starting lineup of Quinn Cook, Rodney Hood, Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, and Jabari Parker for the third straight game. Cook and Parker have started all 19 games in 2013-14. Coach Mike Krzyzewski continued to rotate liberally, a trend that started with the victory over NC State. For only the third time all season, Duke failed to have a player reach 20 points. Parker was Duke’s leading scorer with 17 points. Duke’s top three scorers, Cook, Hood, and Parker combined for 37 of 67 Duke points, including 23 of 33 in the first half. The trio combined to average 49.3 points per game, or 60.2 percent of Duke’s total scoring. Rasheed Sulaimon came off the bench to score nine points and dish out four assists. In addition, Andre Dawkins swiped a season-high three steals while playing just 10 minutes, his fewest minutes since December 19. He hit 2-of-6 three-pointers for his 11th game this season with multiple treys. Duke improved to 1-2 in the league on the road after losing at Notre Dame and Clemson.
Coach K has 899 wins at Duke and is just one win why of becoming the second coach in NCAA Division I history to record 900 wins at one school. Already the NCAA Division I all-time leader with 972 wins, he trails only Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (936) for the most wins at one school. Duke is averaging 87.5 points per game at home compared to 74.0 points per game on the road. Duke opponents average just 66.9 points per game in Cameron. The Blue Devils have held each of its last two opponents to one double-figure scorer. Donnavan Kirk led Miami with 11 points Wednesday, while T.J. Warren led NC State with 23 points Saturday. Duke, meanwhile, has seven double-figure scorers during that span. Duke’s defense has been strong during its current three-game win streak, as the Blue Devils have allowed just 57.0 points per game. The opposition has shot 40.6 (63-of-155) from the field, including just 28.6 percent (8-of-28) from three-point range, in that span.
Rodney Hood leads the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (.459 – 39-of-85), ranks second in field goal percentage (.521 – 112-of-215) and fifth in free throw percentage (.847). Hood is the only player in the conference to rank among the top five in those three shooting categories. Duke has at least one 20-point scorer in 17 of 19 games this season. Jabari Parker has a team-high 11 20-point games, followed by Hood (8, plus one 30-point game), Quinn Cook (3), Rasheed Sulaimon (2), and Andre Dawkins (1). Reigning ACC Player of the Week Sulaimon is shooting .632 (12-of-19) from three-point range over his past nine games and is Duke’s leading scorer off the bench with 10.3 points per game when not in the starting lineup. Amile Jefferson is averaging 8.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game since returning to the starting lineup on January 7. He is shooting 69.6 percent (16-of-23) from the field during that five-game stretch.
While Duke leads the overall series with Florida State at 32-9 dating back to 1955, it is the last few years that garner the most attention. The Seminoles have earned six wins over nationally ranked Duke teams in the first 11 seasons under head coach Leonard Hamilton. The Seminoles’ six wins over ranked Duke teams represent more than one-fifth (.206) of their wins against ranked teams since Hamilton became Florida State’s head coach to begin the 2002-03 season. Not only was Duke the Seminoles’ first ranked victim under Hamilton (February 2, 2003) but the Seminoles have defeated a nationally ranked Duke team more than any other since Hamilton took over in Tallahassee.
When we look at the Four Factors to Winning this week, we find that these two teams have very similar stats, with one exception. This exception could prove to be key, and it is ball handling. Duke has a significant edge in TO%, 14.1 vs. 21.7. Duke has a slight advantage in shooting (eFG% of 56 vs. 52.8) whereas the Seminoles have the edge in offensive rebounding (OR% of 35.9 vs. 31) and shooting free throws (FT Rate of 42.3% vs. 41.8%)
A few statistical points to ponder… The Seminoles have won three close games this season (a win by five or fewer points). Florida State has won every game this season (4-0) after recording eight or more three-pointers and when committing 10 or fewer turnovers. The Seminoles also have won every game this season (8-0) after holding an opponent to under 31.8 percent three-point percentage. Duke will need to focus once again on gaining the rebounding advantage as well as getting to the free throw line.
If Duke doesn’t shoot well from the floor offensive rebounding will be at a premium, Amile Jefferson could be huge for the Devils if his current trends are to continue. He and Jabari Parker have come up big in the rebounding department as of late. Duke will also make this game easier if it can limit the amount of turnovers, Duke has had trouble at times this season maintaining or pushing a lead when it slacks off the intensity and turns the ball over or doesn’t exercise good shot selection.
The Blue Devils have an offense (second in adjusted offensive efficiency, Pomeroy) that is led by a probable top five NBA draft pick in Jabari Parker. He is joined by the other two top offensive contributors, Rodney Hood (another probable top NBA lottery pick) and Quinn Cook. That said, a unit that is ranked 73rd in adjusted defensive efficiency (Pomeroy) is by no means a powerhouse. Although it might not matter against a Florida State squad that has held opponents to a 42.6 eFG%, sixth in the nation. However, Leonard Hamilton’s squad has big, strong guards, plus 6-foot-9 Okaro White could be a tough matchup for a Duke team that has struggled against good big men all season. This will not be an easy game for Duke. In the end Duke will have to do a lot of things well against a Florida State team that is looking to gain its second consecutive win against Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium.