TALLAHASSEE -- In two of its past three games Florida State has been outplayed but still hung around long enough to escape with a win on a buzzer-beating last shot.
On Saturday afternoon, playing host to fifth-ranked Duke, the Seminoles had no such luck. Duke manhandled the Seminoles 79-60, outshooting them, outrebounding them and outclassing them for the entire game.
“Our guys really played great basketball. I’m very proud of them,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We have the utmost respect for [FSU coach] Leonard [Hamilton] and his program with all the success they’ve had and the talent they have right now, but our guys played a terrific basketball game.”
The Blue Devils (19-2, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) jumped out to an immediate advantage, starting the game on an 11-0 run and burying the Seminoles (12-9, 4-4) under an early deficit from which they would never recover.
It wasn’t until the 15:57 mark in the first half — more than four minutes into the game — that the first Florida State basket fell in. By then it was 11-2, and the Blue Devils would run their advantage to 18-2 before the first timeout.
The Seminoles spent the rest of the first half unsuccessfully trying to claw their way back into the game. By the end of the first half, it was 42-22, Duke was outshooting Florida State 62 to 29 percent, outrebounding the Seminoles 18-12 and dominating the paint.
Seth Curry was key for Duke in the first half, scoring 13 points, including shooting 3 of 4 on three-pointers. The Seminoles bench, meanwhile, outscored the starters 17-5 in the first 20 minutes.
“We couldn’t have had a better start; you look up and you’re winning by a lot and there’s 14:56 to go in the first half,” Krzyzewski said.
Said Hamilton: “You’ve got to give them credit. They were able to put themselves mentally at that magic level that’s been kind of elusive for us. Every time they had an open look and we faulted defensively, they made us pay.”
The second half opened with a pair of three-pointers from Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon to put Florida State down by 26. That hole would prove much too large for the Seminoles to climb out of as Duke coasted for most of the second half.
Despite improved shooting from the Seminoles late in the game, the Blue Devils still had their way with Florida State inside and easily outrebounded FSU for the afternoon.
Aaron Thomas led the scoring for Florida State. The freshman guard had 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Michael Snaer — the player behind the Seminoles’ last two game-winning shots — was limited to seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.
The star of the game was Curry. Duke’s senior guard had 21 points, including a back-breaking 5 of 7 from three-point range.
Sophomore guard Quinn Cook had 18 points and added five rebounds and six assists. Sulaimon had 14 points, and Amile Jefferson finished with 11.
With their backs against the wall, Florida State cannot afford any more slipups if it hopes to make a run at an NCAA Tournament berth.
“We’re 4-4 [in the ACC], and if we’re going to have to find a way to get back into the NCAA conversation we’re going to have to do something exceptional,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to have to do something outside the box.
“We’re not going to have very much room for error.”