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Duke finally figures out FSU
The Seminoles rally but fall to the Blue Devils for the first time in three years.
By JAMEY GIVENS, Times Correspondent
Published January 17, 2008
Uche Echefu blocks DeMarcus Nelson's shot in the second half, when FSU put a scare into Duke before fading.
TALLAHASSEE - When Jason Rich put Florida State up by one with just more than three minutes to play Wednesday, it looked as if the Seminoles were on their way to another upset of a Top 10 Duke team.
Then freshman Kyle Singler calmly drained a 3-pointer at the other end, and FSU's shot left the building along with its momentum.
The Seminoles overcame a 17-point first-half deficit to take a brief lead late in the game, but No.7 Duke outscored them 16-2 over the last three minutes and escaped with a 70-57 win, snapping a two-game losing streak against FSU.
"That (shot) kind of slowed our momentum down," Rich said before correcting himself. "It actually stopped it. Next thing you know it's 60-55 and then they could run the clock down."
After Singler's 3, the Seminoles had good looks at the basket but couldn't convert. Rich missed a tough layup in traffic, and Toney Douglas, who scored 14, missed an open jumper. Duke point guard Greg Paulus, who had been silent for most of the night, had a steal and fastbreak layup, and the Blue Devils made all eight of their free throws in the final two minutes.
"They hit the shots down the stretch and we didn't," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said.
Just as it has been all too often in Atlantic Coast Conference play, FSU was good but not good enough.
"They made great plays down the stretch," Hamilton said. "They are a great basketball team. We were right there with an opportunity."
The Seminoles (12-6, 1-2 ACC) traded baskets with Duke (14-1, 2-0) early, but when Rich went to the bench after he picked up two quick fouls, Florida State struggled.
Jon Scheyer came off the bench to score 16 in the first half, including eight during a 16-0 Duke run. The Seminoles made only five of their first 20 field goals, including several around the basket. Duke took advantage of a seven-minute Seminoles scoring drought to build a 30-13 lead with 7:37 left in the half.
"I thought we lost our poise," Hamilton said. "You can't afford to waste possessions against a team of Duke's caliber."
Still, the Seminoles responded. Rich, the senior who scored all his 18 in the second half, pulled his team back into the game with several tough baskets. FSU chipped away at the lead, but each time it looked as if it was going to take control of the game, Duke had an answer. It was the freshman forward, Singler, who provided the dagger.
"Kyle got an open 3 and that was the biggest shot of the ballgame," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Ryan Reid, a 6-foot-8 forward playing in his first game since Minnesota on Nov.27, drew the task of guarding the more perimeter-oriented Singler.
The Seminoles head to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest on Sunday at 1 p.m.