FSU Falls at Duke: 3 Game-Changing Plays

This one stings.

Florida State played alright, at best, and still was in the game in the final seconds. FSU may have lost 70-65, but they have plenty to keep their heads held high about.

The game started out all Duke, with an 11-2 run to open the game. Florida State started to chip away slowly before going into halftime down just 1. Considering the way the game started, that was absolutely a success. Jump shots weren’t falling, Duke was hitting timely shot after timely shot, so to go into the break down just 1 was huge.

Trends would continue in the second half though, as the ‘Noles just couldn’t hit jump shots or free throws, and Duke kept hitting timely shots. Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire were massive for Duke, as FSU’s gameplan was to swarm Vernon Carey anytime he got close to touching the ball. It showed too; Carey only played 19 minutes, and seemed unplayable at some points in the game.

Plenty of plays down the stretch ended up being game-changing and I’ll highlight a few of them, but first, some box score notes.

Florida State beat themselves this game; yes, the officials had some bad calls on both sides, but if the ‘Noles make their free throws or 3s like normal, they win. I don’t know what voodoo Cameron Indoor puts on their rims for opposing teams, but it’s uncanny. FSU is usually a 77.7% free throw shooting team, but made just 12/20 (60%) last night and that’s not even including missing the front end of 1-and-1s. They make their usual percentage, from the line, they get 3 more points.

I love Malik Osborne, but he can’t be the leader in 3-point makes for FSU if they want consistent success. He was pulling Duke’s bigs away from the basket which allowed for great driving lanes, but the roster went 3/18 (16.7%) from deep, way below their average of 36.5%. They only need one or two more of those to fall to really change the course of the game.

The fact they were even in this game was impressive; Duke only loses when opposing teams shoot 48.3% or better, and FSU was nowhere close at 37.9% The Seminoles were in this because they were relentless on the offensive glass and the defensive end. 17 offensive rebounds for Florida State is the most since the LSU OT win in November last year; it’s their most in regulation since the loss at Boston College in January 2018. Way too many of those offensive rebounds ended in immediate turnovers, so you’re losing some points on what should be the easiest points.

On defense, Florida State forced 21 turnovers, matching a season high of turnovers for Duke. Every Blue Devil that started had at least 2 turnovers, which is a mind-blowing thought.

Trent Forrest was… amazing, to say the least; 18 points, 9 rebounds, 8 steals, 4 assists, and a block is the most Trent Forrest stat-line of all time. He is starting to enter tournament mode, so this next 1-2 months of basketball should be fun to watch from him.

Malik Osborne finished with 14 points, and it really felt like FSU was going to run away with the game after he hit his second 3, but it wasn’t meant to be. For some reason, he’s played sparingly the last few games, but played a massive 23 minutes last night, grabbing 5 rebounds and blocking 2 shots in the game.

The only other scorer in double figures for FSU was Devin Vassell with 11, but it was on an inefficient 5/14 shooting. He was the only other ‘Nole to hit a 3, but did add 6 rebounds and 2 steals.

For Duke, Tre Jones led the way with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, while also turning it over 5 times. You could tell he was a little gassed towards the end of the game, but was still hitting some tough fall-away shots from midrange at ALL of the right times for Duke. Those 13 points didn’t even feel like a lot considering he was 5/16 shooting the ball.

Jordan Goldwire had one of the best scoring games of his career with 13 points without missing a shot, including 3/3 from downtown. He won the game for Duke; Florida State played everyone else perfectly that was a priority and I wouldn’t think he could have another repeat performance like this.

Vernon Carey was limited to 10 points and 10 rebounds, but it didn’t feel like he was having a big impact on the outcome of the game. His minutes were being limited since FSU was just swarming him.

Matthew Hurt decided to have a good game again, finishing with 12 points and 2 rebounds. Half of his points were from the free throw line, so… thanks ACC.

The foul difference was actually minimal; 17 fouls for Duke compared to 18 for Florida State, leading to 22 free throw attempts for Duke and 20 for FSU. Those are numbers you can live with.

Now, onto the plays.

Play 1

Scenario: Back-to-Back Transition Opportunities

Florida State is usually a great transition team on offense, but they missed a couple of fairly easy chances on back to back possessions.

RaiQuan Gray needs to just go up strong but instead gets a pushoff call. It’s a fantastic play defensively to collapse and get the steal, but Gray really just has to attack the basket strong here. If he really thought he was going to be caught, still fight through the contact, don’t initiate it.

Here again, another great defensive play to close off the baseline, force the steal, and get out in transition. In the stands, I thought Patrick Williams could’ve slammed this on the Duke defender’s head, but I guess he was a little far away. This is still a transition opportunity that HAS to be finished. Missing on 1 of these 2 opportunities is fine, but missing on both is unacceptable.

Play 2

Scenario: 2 Minutes Remaining, Florida State down 3

I was surprised Florida State put Balsa Koprivica in the game late; I figured if they were going to put a true big in, they’d roll with the veteran Dominik Olejniczak. Koprivica just looked a little nervous, as his missed dunk/layup attempt in the first half showed.

FSU ran this Horns Twist play a lot down the stretch and it got them a few good looks. Koprivica gets the mouse in the house, and draws the foul. He gets to the line here to shoot a 1-and-1, but misses the front end, a brutal turn at this point in the game. Those points are needed. This is basically going 0/2 from the line, and can’t happen in a big game like this.

Play 3

Scenario: The Matthew Hurt offensive rebound

You knew this play was coming, but it needs to be talked about.

First of all, a fantastic block by Malik Osborne to force an off-balance heave late in the shot clock. I wish he could’ve just grabbed it, but somehow Matthew Hurt gets away with pulling Patrick Williams by the arm to grab an offensive rebound. After coming down with the board, he travels then plows through Forrest, to get… sorry, draw a cylinder foul call. Which makes absolutely no sense.

The NCAA’s explanation of the cylinder foul is long, so to abbreviate: a player must be given enough space to control his body. This includes being given enough room to swing their arms.

The official called this a cylinder foul because Hurt was trying to control the ball by swinging his arms down and away from Williams. The issue is Forrest had already been standing there, this isn’t like a double team where he was closing in on Hurt and not giving him space to move. Forrest was just being in position to try and get the rebound, not suffocate Hurt’s space. In a 2016 NCAA Clarification about the cylinder foul, they explain a very similar scenario to this play.

PLAY- An official calls a player control foul on A1 for swinging his elbows and contacting B1 who is defending A1 in the front. The officials elect to use instant replay to determine if the elbow contact by A1 was flagrant. After review, the officials determine that B1 was invading A1’s cylinder at the time of the contact and that A1 was attempting a normal basketball move with his arms more vertical than horizontal when the elbow contact occurred. What are the official’s options?
RULING- The officials may use instant replay to determine if a flagrant foul occurred. After review, the officials may determine if the foul was flagrant, or if the player control foul was the correct call or if, by indisputable evidence, there was no foul. If the officials determine that the foul should have been assessed against B1 because of B1 invading the cylinder of A1 when the contact occurred, the foul call against A1 should be rescinded. However, no common foul may be assessed against B1 by the use of instant replay. Play shall resume with a throw-in by A1 where the stoppage of play occurred to review the act with no adjustment to either the game clock or shot clock.

There are a few differences- 1) the official immediately called this on Forrest despite Forrest taking, what looked like, an elbow to the eye. 2) the offensive player wasn’t charged with the foul to begin with. This is pggy-backing off of the first point, but it’s still necessary to point out. 3) they didn’t use replay AT ALL. This is the type of play that officials usually love to review, but this one time, they decide not to.

I bolded the part I did to show what I think the official is thinking while making this call. I also think it was the worst call that could’ve been made in this situation. Any rational fan could’ve somewhat understood one of these calls: Holding foul on Matthew Hurt on the rebound, traveling on Hurt after getting the board, foul on Patrick Williams after Hurt comes down (either reach-in or a slap), charge on Matthew Hurt, flagrant 1 foul on Hurt for aggressively swinging his elbows into Forrest. A cylinder foul? Absolutely not.

However, if Florida State makes shots they’re used to making throughout the game, it never comes to a point where the refs have an impact like this late in the game. Florida State beat themselves, but this cylinder call left a bad taste in a lot of FSU’s mouths.

The Seminoles get a few days to recover before taking on Syracuse at home on Saturday, February 15th at noon on ESPN2.

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