The Daily Nole

Big Picture Tuesday: Noles Deflated at Duke

Jeff Romance/FSU athletics

Duke held a tenuous one-point lead at the half over Florida State on Monday night and the game remained tight throughout with the Blue Devils ahead 62-61 with 2:48 left in the contest. However, poor shooting from beyond the arc, where FSU went a woeful 3-for-18, and troubles at the charity stripe (12-for-20) ultimately undid the efforts of its tenacious defense that accounted for 15 points off of Duke turnovers. Duke prevailed, 70-65.

It was a noble effort from FSU, regardless of the absence of any long ball heroics, and they even rewarded its backers, who wisely grabbed the 7.5-point head start, according to the closing college basketball odds on the game. Senior guard Trent Forrest did most of the heavy lifting for the Seminoles with 18 points, nine rebounds, and eight steals. Forrest remarked after the game, “Free throws and a couple of 3s, and the game is totally different. Usually, we’re hitting those shots. It’s really just a learning stage for all of us and I feel like we’re going to definitely learn from it.”

Despite the loss to one of the ACC’s top teams, head coach Leonard Hamilton remained objective and sanguine afterward, “Hopefully we can learn from this. I thought there were too many important parts of the game where they got two or three offensive put-backs after they missed and we had plenty of opportunity on layups. We didn’t shoot well on the perimeter. When you’re inefficient on all three of those areas against a really good basketball team who is playing really hard and defending you – something bad will happen. All the credit goes to Duke. Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) had them really, really prepared from an energy standpoint. I thought we just didn’t do a good job when they did miss during critical points and coming away from the ball. They went really hard against the offensive rebound and I thought that made the biggest difference in the game.”

Hamilton went on to say, “You’re going to have games like this. We don’t always hit on all cylinders. This is part of the journey and part of the process. You learn from it and you move on.”

What’s Next for FSU?

Prior to the Duke loss, the Noles had won 13 of 14 games and were locked up with the Blue Devils for second place in the ACC, trailing only Louisville for conference supremacy. As the season rounds into the home stretch, Florida State has seven games remaining on tits regular-season slate, all against conference foes. On Saturday, the Seminoles will host the Syracuse Orange, a team they have yet to face this season but blew out a little over a year ago in an 80-62 destruction at the Carrier Dome. Prior to that, the Orange will meet NC State on Tuesday night while the Seminoles will have a full five days of rest before tipping off against their conference rivals.

Perhaps one of the most unheralded stories in all of college basketball has been the unbridled success FSU has had at home. It is currently 12-0 at “The Tuck” and have not lost since Jan. 12, 2019 when the Seminoles met No. 1 Duke and suffered a heartbreaking 80-78 loss. Thus, their 26-1 mark at home over the last two seasons bodes well for their chances, not only against Syracuse this coming Saturday, but their date with ACC leader Louisville on Feb. 24. FSU will look to make it a series sweep over the Cardinals, having defeated them in Louisville back on Jan. 4 in a convincing 78-65 victory.

If we dare to dream a bit and assume the Noles win their remaining seven contests, as well as the ACC Tournament, they could cop a No. 1 seed when March Madness rolls around. Of course, the likes of Louisville, Duke, and Syracuse will have something to say about all of that, but right now, defense is the key to any success the Seminoles will have in the future. FSU is currently surrendering 65.5 points per game and scoring a respectable 75.1 points per game heading into the weekend. If FSU’s frontcourt can step up and take some of the scoring load off of guards Devin Vassell and Trent Forrest, then a national title may be within its grasp.

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