The Daily Nole

Preview: FSU Looks to Make Statement vs. No. 1 Duke

Mike Olivella/FSU athletics

After getting its first ACC win of the season on Wednesday, Florida State will look to make some ripples over the national airwaves on Saturday as it plays host to No. 1 Duke. The Seminoles held off rival Miami most recently, 68-62.

Duke has won eight straight games and has started off ACC play with easy wins over Clemson and Wake Forest. The Blue Devils have won the last two in the series, including a high-scoring 100-93 contest last season.

The Match-Up

Who: No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (13-1, 2-0 ACC) at No. 13 Florida State Seminoles (13-2, 1-1 ACC)
When: Saturday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Where: Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida

Key Players

For Duke
R.J. Barrett, F (Fr.): 22.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.1 APG
Zion Williamson, F (Fr.): 20.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 68% FG
Cam Reddish, F (Fr.): 12.6 PPG, 2 SPG, 80% FT

Terance Mann, G (Sr.):
11.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 54% FG
Mfiondu Kabengele, F (So.): 11.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 49% FG
Trent Forrest, G (Jr.): 9.7 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.2 SPG

What to Watch For

Zion Williamson: The player that has college basketball abuzz is Duke forward Zion Williamson. At 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, Williamson is a freak athlete and the projected No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft by almost everyone. Williamson currently ranks in the top five of the ACC in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. His ungodly 68 percent mark from the field leads the conference. In two ACC games, Williamson is averaging 27.5 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and shooting better than 81 percent from the floor.

Rebounding: Duke currently leads the ACC in offensive rebounds per game and ranks second behind only North Carolina in rebounding margin. FSU ranks seventh in the conference in that area and it was one where Duke dominated in last season’s match-up. Although Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. are no longer on the front line for the Blue Devils, Duke held a 53-35 advantage on the glass last season with 23 offensive boards. FSU has plenty of size, led by 7-4 senior Christ Koumadje, and must hold its own on the boards come Saturday.

Phil Cofer: Over the last few games, Florida State senior forward Phil Cofer has begun to play starter minutes again. Cofer hasn’t fully returned to form from last season when he led the Seminoles in scoring and began the season on the shelf while nursing a foot injury. During last season’s contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Cofer poured in a career-high 28 points on 11-for-16 shooting and 6-for-10 from deep. Saturday would be a great time for Cofer to come to life.

Offensive efficiency: Florida State has been a good offensive team the last few years, but since the start of ACC play, the Seminoles have been sluggish. In two games, FSU is averaging just 60 points and shooting a paltry 39 percent from the field. At 37 percent, Duke has the best field goal percentage defense in the ACC.

Number to Pay Attention To

2-0: That’s Florida State’s record at home against AP top-ranked Duke teams under head coach Leonard Hamilton.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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