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Duke D Dominates Jackets, 60-34
Photo Gallery
Noles Down 3's and #3 Duke, 82-75 (OT)
The Nutshell
Preview: Duke at Florida State
By Rob Clough and Orin Day
January 28, 2009

ACC Undefeateds to Battle for First Place

Date: January 29, 2009 - 7:00 PM EST
TV: Online via ACCSelect.com subscription
2008 FSU Recap:
  • 17-11, 7-7 ACC (T-5)
  • Final RPI: #59
  • NCAA Tournament Second Round

2008-09 Record: 17-4, 5-0 ACC
Last Game: Won at #23 Virginia, 80-75
All Time Series: Duke leads 28-7

Last Meeting: 3/7/08 (ACC):
      Duke 81, FSU 67
    DWHoops: Waner-Led Rally Whacks Noles
School Website: Seminoles.com

The Scoop:

Looking at FSU's returning players on paper, most agreed that the 'noles really had a chance to make a move in the ACC, especially given their strong postseason experience. FSU's media guide is titled "Here To Stay" - trumpeting their their four consecutive NCAA bids. FSU's ACC record slipped to 7-7 last year after prior back-to-back 10-4 campaigns, and some thought their 2008 NCAA tournament berth might not have been deserved. However FSU proved those doubters wrong as they defeated top 25 Ohio State in the first round and nearly upset #13 Oklahoma State in the second round, losing 73-72. This year FSU is bolstered by an outstanding freshmen class and may be the deepest team in the ACC. The main question that dogs them is one of star power. While there are several very good players on this team, it remains to be seen if they have that one crunch-time performer who can consistently take over a game when necessary.

At ACC Media Day it was clear that Florida State felt like they had a lot to prove this year. Were they really worthy of being considered among the league's elite, given their poor record last season? In November and December it sure didn't seem that way. The Seminoles always seem to have an inexplicable loss or two in the preseason, and their losses to Valpo and Washington certainly fell into that category.

A funny thing happened, though. After that narrow loss to U-Dub, the 'noles gave UConn a stern challenge. That gave them the confidence to beat LSU on the road, a rarity for this program. Their lineup began to gel and they scored a major upset over #3 Texas A&M in a game they controlled the whole way. Their ACC schedule lined up nicely to start off with, given that they played three lower tier teams in Virginia Tech, Clemson and NC State. That set up two impressive wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia, two teams who were also hoping to become top-tier ACC contenders. The Virginia victory was especially crucial given that it was on the road, it's part of a home-and-home, and it was by far the best performance of soph point guard Courtney Ward, who's been up and down this year.

So far, FSU has lived up to their billing as a team filled with solid players but no go-to star. The nearest player to live up to that billing is forward Jacinta Monroe, who has become a steady scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. She's become so effective in part because Bravard has been an impact player, especially in terms of low-post scoring. Throw in the athletic Angel Gray and Alysha Harvin mostly coming off the bench, and the 'noles have shown a nice blend of shooting, experience, size and quickness.

In the backcourt Tanae Davis-Cain, after returning from a suspension during last season, redeemed herself with an outstanding series of scoring performances, finishing with a 15 ppg average. Mara Freshour has played at every perimeter position and is the team's best shooter at a sizzling 43% from three - and her confidence from that range was evident at last year's ACC Tournament. Courtney Ward spent a summer at Point Guard College and her improved play demonstrates what she learned. Gray leads the team with 40 steals. Frosh Alexa DeLuzio was also expected to contribute immediately, but she was redshirted after an ACL injury required surgery. Alexa's parents are Krystal Thomas' guardians and the two were high school teammates at First Academy.

FSU has built their winning streak on balance - there might not be one standout area, but they're good at everything. The biggest key for Duke is to limit open looks from three. The Devils can probably handle the 'noles inside, but they have to be careful to keep them off the foul line. This is turning out to be one of Duke's more significant road games of the season and the Devils need to avoid the upset - unlike the 2004 trip to Tallahassee when FSU ended Duke's 43 game conference winning streak.

Game Plan In Brief: Use advantages inside, deny the 3

Duke Player To Watch: KJ for continued solid play

  Careless Turnovers  

Stat Corner: Duke has won 27 of their last 29 against FSU

Duke D Dominates Jackets, 60-34
Photo Gallery
Noles Down 3's and #3 Duke, 82-75 (OT)
The Nutshell

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