Game Report by Bill from Tampa
Say goodbye to 0-15 at Cameron. Say goodbye no conference road wins this season. Even better, say goodbye to six years of not beating a ranked team on the road. With two games this season lost on the last shot of the game it was about time the ball bounced in favor of Florida State.
Duke got three cracks at the game winner shot, but DeMarcus Nelson’s attempted putback of Josh McRoberts’ short jumper clanged off the rim as time expired giving FSU its first ever win at the storied venue.
After the buzzer sounded a jubilant celebration ensued by the visiting 'Noles as they danced in front of the Cameron Crazies. Duke fans in attendance seemed even less than enthused at the display of exuberance as Leonard Hamilton made his way through the tunnel raising an index finger to salute his team’s triumph.
``That was just a little excitement. We went over there and showed them a little love,'' Thornton said. ``I think we overdid it, but we apologize, though, that we did all that.''
Early on it sure didn’t look like it would be a FSU win. The ‘Noles were down 7-0, had missed their first four shots, and had Isaiah Swann with two fouls in the opening minutes of the game.
By more than half way through the first period the Seminoles were down 27-10 and saw Uche Echefu and Jason Rich pick up back to back charging calls giving the appearance that a blowout was imminent.
Greg Paulus did most of the damage with 13 points in that span. He finished with 23, an indication that the Seminoles defense stepped it up.
That blowout didn’t materialize however and the ‘Noles dug in to claw their way back to within three, 36-39, at the half. FSU took its first lead just 1:10 into the second half when Al Thornton blazed around Gerald Henderson for the lay up.
Hamilton was obviously pleased with the team’s comeback. “We had a horrendous start. But we fought back that gave us some confidence going into the half”, Hamilton said.
“Defensively we were fouling unnecessarily and we had open shots that we could not knock down. Duke’s defense kept us off balance the entire game. But in the second half we rebounded better and got stops.”
“The guys stepped up to make gutty plays,” he added.
One player Hamilton singled out was Ryan Reid. With Echefu
on the bench with four fouls, Coach Hamilton had to rely on the freshman forward late in the game. Reid finished with four points but none bigger than his lay up that scored FSU’s final points
after corralling the offensive rebound moments before. “Ryan’s defense in the second half was outstanding” notably his defense against McRoberts in helping to hold him to 14 points.
Once again leading the way was the duo of Al Thornton and Toney Douglas. Always a big game player, Thornton scored 21 points along with 8 rebounds.
Douglas again came through late in the game scoring 5 points during one stretch with his three pointer from the left wing giving FSU a 60-57 lead they would not relinquish. The redshirt sophomore finished with 15 points.
Also in double figures was Echefu with 12 points, all in the
After FSU got down by fifteen, the Seminoles went on a 15-2 run helped along by foul trouble on McRoberts and Lance Thomas who had difficulty n containing Thornton. A greater intensity on defense creating Duke turnovers and the ability to get out and run by the speedier ‘Noles had the Blue Devils backpeddling. Echefu’s three ball in transition from the right wing made the score 29-25 in favor of Duke at the 4:56 mark.
In the second half Jerel Allen’s lay up on a break away gave FSU a 45-40 lead. Duke dug in and took back the lead, 48-47, when a Zoubek screen rubbed off Jason Rich allowing Nelson to can a three from the left wing.
After a three ball from Paulus made it 52-49, a key moment in the game occurred when Douglas was fouled by Paulus throwing a right arm as the two came down the near side. Some jawing erupted between the two but Hamilton grabbed his point guard pulling him to the sideline. Paulus was assessed the technical with Thornton making it 52-51.
Shortly after that Douglas knocked the ball away from Nelson and a two on one break was finished off by Rich. Ralph Mims fell down on the next possession that allowed Henderson an easy lane to the basket. Douglas followed with a lay up from the right side off a double screen. Another steal by Rich resulted in Mims head faking his way to a lay up.
Paulus tied it at 57 with a three from the left corner preceding Douglas’ three from the left wing.
With the score at 68-63 and 2:50 remaining and reminiscent of last year’s officiating blunder that fouled out Alexander Johnson, Nelson shoved Rich in front of the Seminole bench forcing him to step out of bounds. Instead of a foul on Nelson, Rich was called out and the ball was turned over to Duke.
After Nelson made it 68-65 and the ball back in the Seminole
side of the court, a normally composed Hamilton exploded at the referee still fuming at the no call on Nelson seconds earlier. Assistant coaches pulled the angry Hamilton back, but not before he was T’d up.
The technical free throws brought the Devils to within one, 68-67 with 2:29 still left on the clock.
It could have been a repeat of past games lost on the final possession during the Hamilton era. FSU had three possessions with Douglas taking the shot. However he couldn’t knock down any of them.
Fortunately Duke couldn’t sink any of their shots either although they certainly had multiple chances in the last 7.7 seconds. Thornton grabbed a rebound but a jump ball was called with 4.2 seconds left and the possession arrow to Duke. Duke got the ball to McRoberts in the lane but the short runner would not go down. Nelson rebounded on the ft side but he missed as well quickly silencing the partisan Cameron crowd when the clock ran out.
Hamilton called the game a “significant win” for the 17-6, 5-4 Seminoles. Now tied for fifth in the standings with Duke, Hamilton said “We now have to back this up with some more victories.”
That starts with another road game, at Clemson on Wednesday at 7:30. It will be a chance for FSU to gain some retribution for an earlier loss this season to the Tigers when Cliff Hammonds hit the game winner with just three seconds left. After starting 17-0 the Tigers are 1-4.