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Next Up - FSU

So what to expect on Sunday in the ACC Title game? Well, for starters, Duke should be more or less healthy.  The guys who got hurt in the Durham game should be basically okay, and Nolan Smith is getting back up to speed quickly.

So what that means is that Duke has two excellent defenders to throw at Toney Douglas.

In Tallahassee, with Nolan Smith mostly on Douglas, Duke held him to 7-23 shooting and forced five turnovers (on the other hand, Smith had seven of his own).  Duke won 66-58.

In the Durham game, which Duke won 84-81, without Smith and Lance Thomas, and during which Brian Zoubek broke his nose and Jon Scheyer twisted his ankle, Douglas was 9-20. Uche Echefu and Solomon Alabi were much tougher in this game.

As good as Douglas is, then, Duke has so far held him to 16 for 43, or around 37%.  Presumably with a deeper bench, they can defend him reasonably well again.

But what to do with Alabi?  People are starting to catch on that this guy is going to be really good.  The Globe's Bob Ryan had a rave the other day.  Barry Jacobs says of Alabi that he ..."is graceful, athletic, and under control, and could quickly emerge – assuming he stays in college for another year or two – as one of the most dominant post defenders in conference history. Certainly the ACC hasn’t seen his like in years."

He's a load, and Echefu was in Durham as well.  And then there's nasty Ryan Reid, an unpleasant hothead.  And there's also Chris Singleton. They're all 6-9. Then there's 6-11 baby-faced freshman Xavier Gibson, who wears his hair long, which, given the very youthful face he has, is a fashion faux pas. Actually, only two guys on this team are under 6-4.

But still. You can counter size with speed, defense and aggression, and if you can't get the ball, you can't shoot.  And Duke has beaten bigger teams before.

The other guy who has really come on for FSU lately is Derwin Kitchen, the one-time Florida recruit who shaved his long locks some time ago and who has injected FSU with a nice dose of athleticism.

There's more, but you get the idea. Al McGuire said that if you cut off the head, the body dies, and he was referring to Phil Ford.  Worked, too.

Florida State is a bit more of a hydra, but you still have to stop Douglas.  And of course it would be nice if Gerald Henderson's offense arrived.  He hasn't been nearly as effective offensively as he might have been, but on the other hand, he's the #1 target of every defense, which has a lot to do with the success the other guys are having.

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