Duke got to .500 in the ACC with a pulsating 100-93 win over a visiting Florida State team that was every bit as tough and talented as its national ranking (24) suggested.
It was a back-and-forth slugfest in which neither team was ever able to get any real separation from its opponent. The game was tied seven times, saw 14 lead changes and not a single double-digit lead.
But Duke had the final run, scoring the game’s final nine points after FSU took a 93-91 lead, with 3:30 left and did so with all four freshman starters playing with four fouls.
A blow-by-blow would take me all day.
Mike Krzyzewski summed it up. “It’s tough to describe that game. It was an amazing game. We couldn’t stop each other. The will to win was evident every second by both teams. They had magnificent performances, we did. If it would have gone a couple of more minutes, they might have won. It doesn’t get much better than what you saw today.”
Duke had seven-point leads five times in the first half, the last at 29-22. But the Seminoles closed the half on a 10-3 run and took a 49-45 lead into the locker room.
It was a bit of a man-bites dog first half. Duke made only 2-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half, with FSU going 7-for-14. Oft-injured Phil Cofer—the ACC should already give him the most-improved player award-made 4-of-5 3-pointers en route to a 22-point half.
But Duke pounded FSU on the glass, Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter, Jr. keeping alive possessions.
The second half was more of the same. Cofer and CJ. Walker hit bombs and FSU got their biggest lead, 55-47 less than two minutes into the second half. Duke regained the lead in less than two minutes, a four-point play by Bagley being a key.
Allen converted two technical-foul shots—FSU bench—and Duke was up 61-55, a 14-0 run.
But the next seven called fouls after the technical were called on Duke.
In fairness, the second half was played with two officials after Brian Dorsey went down with a foot injury. And in Grayson’s Allen’s words, “we got too happy with the 3-ball,” which isn’t the way to get to the line.
Cofer hit another 3 to give him 28 points, with 15:54 left.
He didn’t take another shot for 10 minutes and didn’t score again.
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said it was just the flow of the game and praised Cofer for not forcing shots. But it’s hard not to wonder if Duke didn’t dodge a bullet here.
Braian Angola hit some bombs, as FSU fought back.
But every time Duke was on the ropes, Bagley went up and grabbed an offensive rebound.
“It’s just heart,” Bagley said. “Whenever I see the ball bounce off the rim or a loose ball, I just want to get it for my team, to help my team in any way possible. Just jump up and fight for it and get every ball. That’s how I play the game.”
Bagley grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, seven in the second half. FSU had nine offensive rebounds for the game.
FSU’s leading scorer, Terance Mann, was held scoreless for 29 minutes but scored nine points down the stretch, the final a tip-in that put FSU up 83-82. Angola hit 3s to put them up 86-84 and 91-89.
Enter Trevon Duval.
Duval had played most of the game in foul trouble, picking up two fouls in the opening 2:30.
Duke sat him awhile but put him back in.
“You’ve got learn how to do it,” Krzyzewski said of playing in foul trouble. “Over the years, we haven’t been a team that when a kid gets two fouls, we take him out and sit him, like it’s some kind of commandment. They have to learn. You’re not going to win a game without your big players. He came in some in the first half with two and played like he had two. I told him ‘you can’t do that.’ I’d rather not have you in the game. Then he got four and I told him you can’t play this last four minutes like you did in the first half. Be a man.”
Duval played like a man.
“Coach told me not to play like I had four fouls. He told me to be more aggressive and play smart. I started to play more freely and didn’t worry about fouling out of the game.”
Duval had nine points and four assists over the final 6:31, a layup tying it at 93, a transition assist on a Wendell Carter, Jr. dunk to make it 95-93 and a layup to make it 97-93.
Allen contrasted Duke’s closing stretch with that at Boston College.
“We stayed in attack mode, even when Tre got that defensive board. Our team is best when we’re attacking, being smart about it but attacking.”
Allen says his young team has figured out that getting-everyone’s-best-shot is not just hyperbole.
“That was a tough game and a tough win,” Duval said.” If every game is like this, then we need to prepare for a fight every game.”
“We have a will to win,” Bagley added. “We just fight. We come together, come closer and figure out ways to easy buckets in transition and get stops on the defensive end. I think we’re getting the hang of it now.
The win runs Duke’s record to 13-1. FSU dropped its ACC opener and falls to 11-2 overall.
Bagley ended with 32 points and 21 rebounds, despite missing 6-of-11 foul shots. Of course, one of those misses enabled him to grab the rebound and convert a scoop-shot, three-point play.
Allen scored 22 and led everyone with six assists. Carter had 14 points and 16 rebounds, Gary Trent, Jr. 13 points and seven rebounds, and Duval 16 points.
Duke got only three points off its bench, a 3-pointer by Alex O’Connell, who also had a nice assist on an Allen-3-pointer.
FSU had 24 bench points and hit 15-of-32 from beyond the arc, compared to Duke’s woeful 8-of-30. But Duke outrebounded FSU 53-35 and turned it over only nine times, resulting in 14 more field-goal attempts than FSU.
Cofer ended with 28 points, Angola with 23.
All of Duke’s starters except Allen finished the game with four fouls. FSU lost CJ Walker to fouls.
Duke is off until next Saturday, at NC State and doesn’t return to Cameron until January 13, against Wake Forest.
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- No. 24 FSU basketball loses shootout at No. 4 Duke
- FSU Basketball drops ACC opener after late comeback by Duke
- WATCH: Marvin Bagley III crams on Florida State defender
- Bagley, No. 4 Duke Outlast No. 24 FSU, 100-93
- Box Score
Player of the Game vs. Florida State
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Alex O’ Connell