The No. 7 Duke Blue Devils added a marquee win to their resume as they battle for an ACC crown and a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's tournament.
Duke defeated the No. 8 Florida State Seminoles 70-65 in Monday's conference showdown at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tre Jones led the way, helping his team improve to 21-3 overall and 11-2 in the ACC, which is second place behind the 12-1 Louisville Cardinals.
Matthew Hurt took advantage of a questionable call and hit four critical free throws in the waning seconds to secure the win.
As for the Seminoles, they fell to 20-4 overall and 10-3 in ACC play with their first loss since Jan. 28.
Notable Player Stats
- Duke G Tre Jones: 13 points, six assists and three rebounds
- Duke C Vernon Carey Jr.: 10 points, 10 rebounds and two steals
- Duke G Jordan Goldwire: 13 points on 3-of-3 shooting from three-point range
- FSU G Trent Forrest: 18 points, nine rebounds, eight steals and four assists
- FSU F Malik Osborne: 14 points and five rebounds
- FSU G Devin Vassell: 11 points, six rebounds and two steals
Jordan Goldwire Helps Bail Out Blue Devils in Supporting Role
The one-two punch of Jones on the outside and Vernon Carey Jr. on the inside has been enough to carry Duke for much of the season.
Jones in particular was brilliant down the stretch of Saturday's comeback win over North Carolina, scoring 28 points and taking over after Carey fouled out. The sophomore guard outscored the Tar Heels 18-16 in the final minute of regulation and overtime.
However, Duke needed more than its leading pair on Monday given its turnover woes.
Despite building a double-digit advantage in the first half, the home team let its lead slip away when Florida State dialed up the pressure. Trent Forrest alone tallied eight steals, creating transition opportunities and easy baskets to help his team remain in striking distance even with abysmal perimeter shooting.
The turnovers undercut Duke's own impressive defensive effort, and it needed a secondary scorer to hit key shots and keep the Seminoles at bay.
Enter Jordan Goldwire, who connected on all three of his triples and all five of his field-goal attempts. Two of the three-pointers came in the second half, and he drilled a key jumper in the final three minutes to push the lead back to three.
Opposing defenses figure to collapse on Jones and Carey as the stakes are dialed up in the stretch run this season, and Duke will need other players to take advantage of the subsequent openings. Goldwire proved he can do just that in Monday's win.
Poor Shooting Costs Seminoles Key Road Win
In most years, almost every ACC game is a high-profile affair.
However, the conference is down compared to its usual position atop the country, meaning teams like Florida State—who could fall anywhere from a No. 1 to a No. 4 seed come Selection Sunday—don't have many chances to truly impress on the road.
The Seminoles have noteworthy wins over Florida and Louisville away from home, but Monday represented an opportunity to win in one of the sport's most hallowed grounds. Yet a team that is defined by balance with nobody averaging more than Devin Vassell's 13.5 points per game and 10 different players averaging double-digit minutes all went cold at once.
Florida State shot an abysmal 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) from three-point range and, much like Duke's turnovers, could have been dealing with tired legs from Saturday's win over Miami.
The poor shooting is in part a testament to the Blue Devils defense, which is No. 12 in the country in Ken Pomeroy's pace-adjusted rankings, but the Seminoles will surely rue the fact that an even slightly below-average mark from three-point range would have been enough for a win.
Perhaps they will get another chance against the Blue Devils in the ACC tournament.
Both teams are home Saturday when Duke faces the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Florida State hosts the Syracuse Orange.