NCAA Men's Basketball

No. 9 Duke puts ACC title chase up against Florida State

No. 9 Duke will be considering more than just payback when it faces Florida State on Saturday night at Durham, N.C.

So much has changed in the few weeks since the first meeting between the teams, not to mention the uncertain status regarding Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Florida State has stumbled tremendously since its upset of Duke in January, undergoing a remake of sorts because of a rash of injuries.

"A lot of these guys are first-year players for us," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of the rotation of players used in recent games. "They're adjusting to the conference. They're adjusting to the mindset you have to be in."

Duke (22-4, 12-3 ACC) has mostly been back on track.

If there's one common thread for the teams this week it is that both are coming off thrilling home wins Tuesday night.

Duke overcame Wake Forest, winning 76-74 on Mark Williams' putback dunk in the final second.

Florida State (14-11, 7-8) pulled out an 81-80 win against Clemson, halting a six-game losing streak.

Duke associate head coach Jon Scheyer filled in for Krzyzewski in the second half of the Wake Forest game. An illness kept Krzyzewski in the locker room after halftime, although he met with the team afterward.

"He needs some rest, but I'm not going to comment any more on that," Scheyer said, leaving open speculation regarding the Hall of Fame coach's availability for the weekend.

Florida State knocked off Duke 79-78 in overtime Jan. 18.

But three Florida State starters from that game - Naheem McLeod, Caleb Mills and Anthony Polite - have been out with injuries. Malik Osborne, who logged more than 32 minutes that night, also is down.

"Obviously, these are difficult circumstances that we're playing under," Hamilton said. "We try to be realistic."

The Seminoles were just three days removed from an embarrassing performance at North Carolina when it avenged a loss to Clemson this week. The visit to Duke marks the beginning of three consecutive road games for the Seminoles.

"I thought our guys showed true character," Hamilton said. "This is a big hill for us to climb. It showed that we have a lot of pride."

While Florida State is just trying to gain traction again, Duke is tied with Notre Dame atop the ACC standings.

Duke's Williams has shot 78.4 percent (62 of 79) from the field across the last 11 games. He was 6 of 8 on the way to 15 points vs. Florida State.

The Blue Devils are expected to encourage more aggressive play from freshman standout Paolo Banchero.

"I think we also learned offensively, Paolo attacking downhill is always a good thing for us," Scheyer said.

Duke has been in several games that have been decided in the final seconds this season. One came in the loss to Florida State.

The outcome against Wake Forest might have been reassuring, particularly because eight nights earlier the Blue Devils fell on a 3-pointer with less than two seconds left against Virginia.

"We shouldn't have even put ourselves in that situation, but we still found a way to win (vs. Wake Forest), which was the most important thing," Williams said. "We've been in a lot of situations that have been close and been on the wrong side of that so just to get a win was huge."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 17, 2022