Three keys to beating Duke

The Florida State men’s basketball team will face an ACC rival and the No. 1 team in the country on at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12. The Duke Blue Devils have been nothing short of outstanding this year as they have won 12 of 13 games only losing to No. 5 Gonzaga early in the year.

FSU will need to play its best game of the season after struggling against middling Miami to get a chance to upset the Blue Devils. It won’t be easy, but this team has proven itself against adversity time and time again. 

1. Take Quality Shots

The ‘Noles fell to Virginia last Saturday and if you watched the game, I apologize. They were all over the place. Florida State shot 34.1 % from the floor and 26.1 % from behind the three-point line. Terance Mann, Trent Forrest, and Phil Cofer shot a combined 3/13 for ten points, which isn’t exactly the kind of production you need from your stars. Frankly, this team isn’t good from scoring outside of the paint. They are inconsistent on jump shots but can consistently dominate the paint when given the chance.

Mfiondu Kabengele, Cofer, Christ Koumadje, and RaiQuan Gray need to take over the paint against Duke. It’ll be tough against Zio Williamson, but if they can draw him into early foul trouble, FSU will have a chance.

2. Contain the Impact Players

Duke’s starting lineup is something an NBA GM would drool over. Four of the five starters are true freshmen. Williamson, perhaps a mirror image of Lebron James, will be the hardest person for the Seminoles to contain. R.J Barrett and Cam Reddish will also pose a challenge for the ‘Noles. FSU will need its defense to be on full display against the Blue Devils. 

Leonard Hamilton’s defensive-minded squad averages a meager 3.8 blocks per game (No. 128 in the country) and will need to up that number to pull the upset. That’s sad considering the Seminoles have just one player under 6-foot-4 in their rotation. That said, Florida State has been excellent at forcing steals, nabbing 8.7 per game with its high-pressure attack. If they can force Duke’s top players into live-ball turnovers it’ll make this team that much harder to contain.

3. Win the Glass

Duke is currently averaging 45 rebounds per game to FSU’s 37. The Seminoles will need to compete and be physical on the boards for 40 minutes. Cofer’s continued integration back into the lineup should help out on the glass. The senior forward averaged 5.1 rebounds per game a season ago and will need a monster performance to limit Williamson. 

Koumadje and Kabengele will be vital in pulling down crucial rebounds against Duke. Florida State really needs them to step up as well to pull the upset.

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