Florida State played an excellent defensive game, with the exception of 12 possessions to open the second half. During that span, Duke went on a 24-5 run that essentially put the game out of reach (although the Noles would do their best to claw back into it). As a brief aside, Duke's bursts out of the gate in the second half of late have been encouraging - the last three games have featured runs of 24-5, 14-3, and 25-9. Today, that brief lapse hid, somewhat, the overall performance by FSU. The Noles' length and ball pressure really bothered Duke (Nolan Smith especially, as he had 7 turnovers) and helped them hold the Devils to 42 points in 56 possessions outside of the second half opening run.
Thankfully, Duke matched FSU's defensive intensity throughout the game and forced the Noles into an equally futile (if not moreso) offensive effort. FSU scored only 14 points in the first half, and despite crushing the boards to get 14 of 27 available offensive rebounds could only make 7 buckets. In case you're scoring at home (or, with apologies to Keith Olbermann, even if you're alone), Duke had a consecutive stretch of 40 minutes against ACC opponents during which it gave up just 27!!! points in 58 possessions, good for a 46.55 defensive rating. That's, um, ridiculously good defense. The versatility of the Devils' defense is remarkable - they've effectively neutralized screens except off of Zoubek, as K is comfortable with everyone else switching onto a ball-handler. And they're just all over the court - it's really fun to watch them move and communicate on the defensive end.
On offense, Gerald Henderson had a bit of a breakout game. He carried Duke during a first half in which everyone else was bad, and hit some key shots down the stretch to keep the cushion at least relatively comfortable and deflate FSU's valiant attempt at a comeback. His explosiveness is fun to watch - the catch on the Smith lob was simply amazing.
If there are concerns coming out of this game, it's the sudden disappearance of the bench, not in terms of minutes, but in terms of contribution. Paulus, Thomas, Williams, and McClure combined for just 3 points, a collective -9 in +/-, and not one of them had an offensive rating of even 70. That's a very negative sign, and one that will need to be reversed.
Around the ACC
Maryland beat Georgia Tech in a sloppy, ugly affair. The game cleared 80 possessions but neither team cleared 70 points - Maryland because it couldn't shoot and Tech because it couldn't hold on to the ball. The Jackets finished with 28 turnovers, which included 18 in the first half. All those turnovers kept Maryland in the game and ultimately allowed them to complete the comeback and get the win despite the fact that no one on the Terps' roster produced at least one point per possession used today. Maryland missed 50 shots, got just 9 offensive rebounds, and won by 7. Go figure.
Clemson pulled away from NCSU doing what they always do to the Pack - force turnovers. The Tigers recorded steals on over 18% of NCSU's possessions and the total forced TO number was over 27%. Clemson's offense didn't play particularly well, especially outside of Trevor Booker, who had a monster game with 23, 6, and 6 blocks.
Virginia Tech beat Virginia in Blacksburg behind huge performances from AD Vassallo and Malcolm Delaney. The two combined for 53 of Tech's 78 points. For Virginia, Sylven Landesberg acquitted himself quite well in his first conference rivalry game and Mustapha Farrakhan tossed in 17 in just 12 minutes, but the lack of defense doomed the Cavs yet again - Virginia has already let teams clear a point per possession in 8 games this year, and is just 3-5 in those contests.
Finally, the U lived up to its billing as the Harvard of Florida (note: I completely made that up) by following in the Crimson's footsteps to pick up a win at BC. The 'Canes used a very well-balanced offensive attack that saw 5 players hit double figures. The teams had very similar performances with one key exception that made all the difference - Miami did alright knocking down 2s (41%) and BC did not (39%). BC was really hurt by foul trouble to Corey Raji, who was limited to just 9 minutes. He's BC's most efficient offensive threat by far, with a 132.39 rating, and he did his team no favors while sitting on the bench.
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