That was a gut-check.
From the moment we saw the schedule we knew this was going to be a tough one. Florida State-traditionally the ACC’s deepest, most physical team—two days after visiting Chapel Hill.
And then Duke had to go overtime against Carolina and Leonard Hamilton showed up in Durham with perhaps the best team of his 18-year tenure at FSU.
But Duke withstood every potential knock-out blow, overcame mental and physical fatigue and outscored the visitors 18-11 down the stretch to come away with a 70-65 win.
To say it was a team victory would be an understatement. Jordan Goldwire tied Tre Jones for the team lead with 13 points. Alex O’Connell and Javin DeLaurier came off the bench to deliver both energy and production when Duke needed them most. And freshman Matthew Hurt fought out of his slump with a ferocious offensive rebound and four clutch foul shots in the final 12 seconds.
Duke came out and jumped all over the Seminoles. Cassius Stanley and Goldwire hit 3-pointers to cap an 11-0 run that put Duke up 11-2.
But FSU is in the top 10 on merit. Hamilton called a timeout and his team regrouped, cutting the lead to 16-11. Hurt hit a 3 and O’Connell a short jumper and Duke was up 21-11.
“When we were moving we got really good shots,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “Then we got tired and stopped moving.”
It wasn’t so much that Duke started missing shots as they stopped taking them. Mental fatigue, physical fatigue, an aggressive physical defense, Trent Forrest.
Duke had four turnovers in less than three minutes, with three more shots blocked.
By halftime FSU had closed to 33-32. Duke had 11 first-half turnovers, with Florida State having 8 steals and 6 blocks.
“At the end of the first half you could tell we were tired,” Krzyzewski said “and rightfully so.”
Javin DeLaurier said the halftime message was “we can be tired tomorrow. We’ve got to grind it out.”
Goldwire compared the game’s physicality to the Louisville game earlier in the season but said Duke was ready for it.
“They [the referees] let us play a lot. It was kind of hard to get the ball where we wanted it. We didn’t really run too many sets throughout the game, it was pretty much just motion. It just came down to who wanted it more.”
Goldwire was perfect from the field, a trio of 3-pointers, two shorter shots.
“I was able to get some work with Coach Carrawell before the game. We thought they might lay off me.”
Goldwire went down with cramps late in the game but finished it out. This was not the kind of game you sat out.
Duke was running on fumes about midway through the second half, when Florida State used an 8-2 run to take a 52-50 lead.
The under-eight media timeout was coming up.
But Krzyzewski did not hesitate.
“We were kind of holding our own. But when they went ahead 52-50 instead of waiting for the eight-minute [timeout], we were ready to get knocked out, so we called a timeout. Alex came in and gave us five quick points and that final 8:29 we were terrific.”
O’Connell came in and tied the game at 52-52 and gave Duke a lead with a 3 for 55-54. O’Connell also held his own defensively down the stretch.
“I definitely sensed that those were big time shots,” O’Connell said. “I like to step in and hit big-time shots and bring energy when I can and if it’s the moment it happens, then that’s the moment it happens. Saturday was a big moment for us, an unforgettable win. But we made sure we moved on. We knew how big of a game this was going to be today. FSU is right at the top of the ACC and they’re an incredible team, athletic and physical. Just working on defense every day. That’s what we build our team around, that defense. If I can be out there in a situation like out there and the coach trusts me, then that just makes us a better team.”
Speaking of defense, Duke held Florida State to eight points in that decisive final 7:32.
Goldwire, Jones and Stanley did their part.
But Duke got another huge bench performance from senior DeLaurier, who gave Duke 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal and off-the-charts toughness and rim protection.
“We could hardly do anything yesterday in practice,” Krzyzewski said “with most of the guys so we did some work with some of the guys who didn’t play as much, really intense individual work. . . . Javin had an amazing workout. I brought him over after and said ‘man, you’re going to a whole ‘nother level.’ In our game we have a thing called ‘trust your work.’ In other words, if you’re working hard, get out there and trust it. He worked really hard and he trusted it.“
Duke got a tiny bit of separation down the stretch, Wendell Moore scoring in transition to put Duke up 61-57, Goldwire hitting a layup for 64-61.
Then DeLaurier grabbed a defensive rebound and drew a foul with 56 seconds left and Duke in the 1-and-1.
“That was actually a situation I wasn’t worried about,” he said. “My teammates have trust in me, my coaches have faith in me. Coach [Nate] James has me shooting 20 1-and-1s after every workout, so it was just a situation I stepped in and felt comfortable.”
DeLaurier knocked them down and Duke led 66-61.
But Malik Osborne scored on an offensive rebound for FSU and Duke got the ball back with 49 seconds left.
What transpired almost matches the end of the North Carolina game. Tre Jones was blocked inside, the ball was batted outside and Moore grabbed it, recognized the situation and launched a desperation shot a second before the shot clock was set to expire. It didn’t come close to going in but it hit the rim and Hurt outfought the ‘Noles for the rebound, drawing a foul in the process, with 13 seconds left.
Still a 1-and-1.
Not a problem. Swish and swish.
“Those are like making plays that you don’t diagram,” Krzyzewski said. “A real player doesn’t run plays. A real player makes plays.”
FSU scored late but Hurt got the inbounds pass and finished it off with two more foul shots.
Tre Jones says Duke isn’t where it wants to be but it’s getting there.
“After those losses we re-grouped and wanted to get back to where we were . . . . getting the hunger back. I think all of us realized we mentally we had took a step back . . . . got a little less hungry. But we’ve been able to regroup. Being able to fight back in that game Saturday showed some growth but being able to refocus and come back and get this big win was huge.”
“This has been an incredible 48 hours for our team,” an almost giddy Krzyzewski summed up. “I’ve got good guys. We beat a heck of team tonight after beating a heck of a team in an epic game 48 hours before. I don’t know where they got the energy the whole game to do this but they did. They listened, they fought. . . . . Not many teams would have won tonight after Saturday. I’m so damn proud of them. I wish you could feel what I feel. . . . That’s one of the joys of coaching. You get your moments through them.”
Goldwire and Jones were joined by Hurt with 12 points, Carey a 10-10 double-double, Stanley 9 points, O’Connell 7. Jones led 6 assists but also had 5 turnovers as he faced a gauntlet of big, physical FSU defenders. Duke turned it over 21 times but outrebounded FSU 39-36 hit 17-22 (77.3 percent) from the foul line.
FSU’S Trent Forrest led everyone with 18 points and an astonishing 8 steals.
Krzyzewski gently chided the fans, suggesting some level of complacency.
“We don’t go the supermarket and buy these things. And they [the fans] weren’t bad. But you’ve got to be even more hungry, even more appreciative. Not for me. . . . . But these kids, it’s their first time. And they’re young and they just fought like crazy and they should have gotten a standing ovation. We’ve been spoiled to watch Zion and Bagley and Tatum and that’s not what this team is. . . . Don’t get on the ride at the end. Be on the ride the whole way.”
Some much-earned time off until Notre Dame comes to town Saturday afternoon.
The win runs Duke’s record to 21-3 overall, 11-2 in the ACC, while dropping FSU to 20-4 and 10-3.
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Player Of The Game vs Florida State
This poll is closed
Alex O’ Connell