With Duke’s starters running on empty after a grueling week, the Blue Devils turned to several reserve players to help grind out an impressive win over No. 8 Florida State.
The Blue Devils had played three straight road games, at Syracuse, Boston College and North Carolina. The last two required Duke rallies to come back and win, including a miraculous comeback to force overtime against the hated Tar Heels on Saturday, with just one day to recover before Monday’s date with the Seminoles.
Like many ACC teams have this season, Florida State decided the game plan to use against Duke was to manhandle the star players. Vernon Carey was double and triple teamed, with guards swiping at the ball on every occasion. He still managed to get a double-double on the night.
Tre Jones was jostled and bumped on every drive, at one point getting poked in the eye, on his way to 13 points and six assists.
Jordan Goldwire limped off the court with rubber legs as he tried to reach the bench to get his cramped muscles treated late in the game.
Javin DeLaurier appeared to be on the verge of collapse from sheer exhaustion at times in the second half.
“This has been an incredible 48 hours for our team,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “I got good guys, I got really good kids. We beat a heck of a team tonight after beating a heck of a team in an epic game 48 hours before. I don’t know where they got the energy the whole game to do this, but they did, they listened, they fought. … You could tell we were tired, rightfully so.”
Duke jumped out to an 11-2 lead and led by double digits 12 minutes in. Then the adrenaline seemed to wear off, and Florida State started to walk the Blue Devils down. Duke struggled to protect the ball against the Seminoles’ pressure, turning it over 21 times. FSU became the first team with 15 steals against Duke (they had 16) since Oregon in 2010. Trent Forrest had eight steals on his own.
The Noles cut the lead down to one at the half, then quickly took the lead on the first possession of the second half. After some back and forth, Duke’s needle seemed to hit E with just over eight minutes remaining.
“In the second half, we were kind of holding our own,”Krzyzewski said, “but when they went ahead 52-50. We looked like we were ready to get knocked out.”
Coach K called timeout and turned to his bench. Alex O’Connell hit a jumper, followed by a three-pointer to help spark a Duke run. Javin DeLaurier had six rebounds and two key free throws near the end. Jordan Goldwire, a part-time starter but not normally the number one scoring option, matched his career high with 13 points, hitting all three of his three-point shots attempts. And Matthew Hurt, who started much of the year but has seen his playing time reduced in recent games, hit two early threes and finished with 12 points and a key offensive rebound to allow Duke to retain possession late in the game.
The Blue Devils moved into sole possession of second place in the ACC standings and survived the toughest stretch of the season unscathed.
“We needed a full day off,” Krzyzewski said. “This is a nine-day period with three road games and this game, and our kids won all four of them.”