By Ken Cross
The coals of the conference openers were burning and erupting on Saturday afternoon where in Durham, No. 4 Duke closed on a 9-0 run over the last 2:58 to shade No. 24 Florida State, 100-93, in a tightly contested matchup that saw the Seminoles make 15 triples but lose the battle on the glass by 13.
Marvin Bagley finished with 32 points and 21 rebounds while Wendell Carter totaled 14 points and 16 boards. They were so relentless that they out-rebounded FSU, themselves, in grabbing 37 of the Blue Devils’ 53 boards.
“We just didn’t have an answer for keeping Bagley and Carter off the glass,” said Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton, “Most of the time when you put your body on a person, and we have been bigger and stronger in the past, it’s difficult. They are such great athletes and have great hands and timing and strength and that made the difference in the game. When you have two guys like that, they make up for mistakes and they make up for misses.”
Duke had a pair of their patented runs that spelled trouble for FSU. Out of halftime, C.J. Walker and Phil Cofer hit a pair of back-to-back threes to give the Seminoles a 55-47 lead before Duke hit FSU with a 14-0 run as Bagley and Grayson Allen combined for 10 of the 14 points.
“That was a sensational win for four freshmen in that there were some things you would not think of there,” said Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, “When we get on a run and that crowd goes nuts, that is the first time they have had that. Those are things you have to learn. The euphoria of being in that moment is incredible so they experienced that about three times today.”
Florida State called time out and was able to thwart that Duke effort when forward Mfiondu Kabengele went to work in that stretch in working the boards, getting to the line and scoring six of his points as he put Florida State in position to retake the lead when Braian Angola nailed a three to allow Florida State to retake the lead at 74-73 with 9:27 to play.
After Duke pushed back when Bagley and Allen combined on a quick 7-2 run to take an 80-76 lead, Angola scored 13 of FSU’s final 17 points as he nailed a pair of NBA threes to give FSU a pair of two point leads after Duke had forged ahead by one.
“Both teams played great and we couldn’t stop each other and the will to score and the will to win was evident every second by both teams,” said Krzyzewski.
Terrance Mann made a pair of free throws to push FSU ahead at 93-91 with 3:31 remaining, but the Seminoles, who had fought back most of the afternoon, didn’t have enough to push to the end. They were 0-of-10 from the floor after Angola’s three with 4:01 remaining gave FSU a 91-89 advantage.
“There are always certain things you are going to focus on in order to play against them,” noted Hamilton, “They are going to be well prepared, they are going to give tremendous effort, and they are going to execute.”
The Blue Devils hit that last run that Krzyzewski alluded to over the last three minutes when Trevon Duval stayed aggressive off the dribble with a pair of driving layups and Carter slammed a pair of dunks. The paint and the boards were the difference as Duke outscored Florida State 56-28 inside.
The 6-8 Cofer, who has become another threat in Florida State’s three-point arsenal, has a phenomenal first half as he scored 23 of his 28 points in staking FSU to a 9-45 lead at the break. He made 11-of-16 shots, including six triples.