After suffering a shock against Virginia Tech in their ACC opener, the Duke Blue Devils (14-2, 2-1) are back on track with two straight wins. The Blue Devils gave head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will miss the next four weeks due to back surgery, a nice sendoff with a dominant 110-57 win over Georgia Tech, and began their stint without Coach K with a 93-82 over Boston College. Freshman Jayson Tatum tied a season-high with 22 points, while the highly-controversial Grayson Allen had 12 points and 11 assists against the Eagles. Tatum has had a very good start to ACC play. He’s averaging 19.7 points (tied with Luke Kennard for the team lead in conference play), 6.3 rebounds, and 3.0 steals.
However, the Blue Devils have suffered a blow along the frontcourt as senior Amile Jefferson will miss the Florida State game with a bone bruise on his foot. Jefferson is averaging 13.6 points and a team-high 10.1 rebounds this season. With Jefferson out, freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden will get their chance to shine. Giles is slowly showing the play that saw him become the No. 1 recruit in this freshman class. He recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in 17 minutes in their win over Georgia Tech, and then had 12 points and 5 minutes in 24 minutes against BC.
Nevertheless, Jefferson’s absence can only help Florida State (15-1, 3-0) and its quest to start ACC play with four straight wins, with three in a row against ranked opponents. The Seminoles starting things off with a big 88-72 win over Wake Forest. They followed that up with a very impressive 60-58 win over No. 12 Virginia in Charlottesville. They also didn’t fall to a potential trap game against No. 21 Virginia Tech, as they handled the Hokies, 93-78, at home.
Florida State has one of the most potent offenses in the country. The Noles are averaging 86.6 points, 14th in the nation. Dwayne Bacon has been a big reason for their success. The sophomore is averaging a team-high 18.1 points, and he’s upped his production to 23 points over his first three conference games. Junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes, sophomore Terance Mann, and freshman Jonathan Isaac are also averaging double-figure scoring in conference play. Mann exploded for a season-high 22 points with 9 rebounds against Virginia Tech.
Keys to the Game
Duke Blue Devils
- Get to the hole. Tatum and Allen need to avoid settling for jump shots and constantly attack the rack instead. Florida State is a team that gives up a lot of free throws, so the Blue Devils should be able to get to the line if they stay aggressive.
- Crash the boards. With Jefferson out, Duke needs to help Harry Giles out and rebound as a team against the Noles.
Florida State Seminoles
- Challenge Giles. The Noles have the players who can get to the line, so they need to go straight at the inexperienced freshman and try to get him into foul trouble early.
- Defend the 3-point line. Florida State’s length and athleticism has been a big reason why they’re allowing opponents to just 31.5 percent from beyond the arc. They need to use that length to challenge Duke’s dangerous shooters at all times.
Projected Duke Starting Lineup
G Grayson Allen (Junior) | G Luke Kennard (Sophomore) | G Matt Jones (Senior) | F Jayson Tatum (Freshman) | F Harry Giles (Freshman)
Projected Florida State Starting Lineup
G Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Junior) | G Terence Mann (Sophomore) | G Dwayne Bacon (Sophomore) | F Jonathan Isaac (Freshman) | C Michael Ojo (Senior)
Don’t underestimate Duke despite the absence of both Coach K and Jefferson. The Blue Devils still have more than enough talent to overcome the Seminoles, and that’s exactly what they do. Grayson Allen silences his dectractors with a big game while Giles opens even more eyes with a solid performance.
Tip-Off is at 8pm ET on ACC Network – Donald L. Tucker Center – Tallahassee, FL