No excuses for this one, no arguments: Florida State simply outplayed Duke and deserved to win.
Their defense was as tough as advertised. Florida State held Duke to 31.1% from the floor and 31.4% from three-point range.Â And in fact, of Duke's 19 made field goals, just eight were not threes.
In other words, FSU smothered Duke inside and bothered them enough outside to basically kill Duke's chances.
In so doing, they exposed one of Duke's significant weaknesses, which is a lack of inside scoring.
Other than Kyle Singler, Duke's frontcourt scored just six points.
For whatever reason, Miles Plumlee played just six minutes.
Ryan Kelly was 1-4 and Mason Plumlee was 1-3, although he did grab 14 rebounds.
His game (and recent games) in some ways underscores some of Duke's issues.
In the first eight games, the ones in which Kyrie Irving played, Plumlee averaged 10.5 points per game. In the games since Irving's injury, he has averaged 3.75 ppg.
At some point, we'd be really happy if either of the Plumlees attempted a Tomahawk dunk.Â We wouldn't even really care if they missed it badly. We'd just like to see the aggression.
Both brothers are physically talented enough to create their own shots and to muscle inside.Â We would love to see them do it.
Florida State built on what Maryland discovered, but they had more success: they forced Smith and Singler to carry the load and no one else was ready to step up. However, while Maryland did a nice job controlling Nolan Smith, Singler had his way.
Not so with the Seminoles: while Singler did heat up in the second half, Florida State held to him to two points in the first.Â Duke's senior stars were held to a combined 12-33.Â That leaves just seven baskets made by the rest of the team.
Needless to say, you can't win too many games with that sort of imbalance.
Yet in spite of a poor offensive performance in the face of Florida State's ferocious defense, Duke was nearly in position to win this game.
So ends the 25 game win streak.Â But there is good news.
Duke learns more from losing than anyone else in the game.Â Lessons will be drawn and adjustments made.Â Over the next several games, we would expect to see the teamwork towards a more diversified offense, particularly inside. Kelly, who bears a certain resemblance physically to Kevin McHale, is not ready for heavy inside duty.Â Mason Plumlee, whose game in almost every other respect is high-level, may be the Devil's best hope,Â but whoever steps up will need to be rough and willing to have the ball shoved down his throat a few times to learn what it takes.
In the absence of Irving, for Duke to approach their potential, the offense will have to diversify. Several players have shown the ability to help score at times, but not consistently yet, and certainly none consistently inside.Â Add that and you relieve the pressure on the senior stars and flip it back on the defense.
On Saturday, watch the first several minutes and see what Duke's focus is, and then you will know what the points of emphasis have been in practice this week.
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