FSU basketball takes on top-10 opponent Duke in early afternoon tip-off

Florida State Seminoles basketball plays host to top-10 opponent Duke in late season ACC contest.
Florida State v Virginia Tech
Florida State v Virginia Tech / Ryan Hunt/GettyImages

With two straight losses and only two wins in the last seven games, Florida State Seminoles take on a surging Duke Blue Devils team on Saturday.

Lead in points, rebounds, assists, and steals by Jahmir Watkins (2), the Seminoles will need another strong performance to beat no.9 ranked Duke.

Duke enters the contest on a three-game winning streak and has only lost one game in the last seven matchups. Led in points, rebounds, and blocks by center Kyle Flipowski, the Blue Devils have five players averaging double-digit points per game.

The Blue Devils' offensive game centers around Flipowski as he can dominate the post and shoot the three, but they also value their court space and the three-point shot is valuable to the team. Flipowski is a 34 percent three-point shooter landing around the middle of the pack for Duke.

The Blue Devils have five shooters that average over 35 percent from deep and it is an essential part of their offense. Duke keeps a rotation of six players that play 25 minutes or more with other depth pieces averaging 11 minutes or less a game.

The Seminoles will have to play fast and rotate often to try to best the Blue Devils. Florida State will have to continue to attack the paint and should try to get Flipowski in foul trouble early to negate most of Duke's offense.

FSU must also improve their close-out defense against the Blue Devils and pressure Duke immediately after they cross half-court. Duke isn't very susceptible to turnovers, averaging only nine per game, but the Seminoles have to try to restrict their offense and force bad passes and shots.

The Seminoles are also better suited if the contest remains low-scoring but will need a delicate balance of aggressiveness and discipline so they no longer leave three-point shooters open.

Jaylen Gainey (33), De'Ante Green (5), and Cam Corhen (3) will be important in defending Flipowski. Ideally, they should try to protect the paint playing one-on-one, while using the patented Seminole length to contest the three-point shooters and clog passing lanes.

Seeing how the Atlantic Coast Conference stacks up at this stage, Duke sits second behind North Carolina. The Blue Devils are only a half-game behind the Tar Heels, who also hold a head-to-head advantage.

The Florida State Seminoles are in a four-team tie for fifth place with six games left to play. Wake Forest still sits fourth, the last spot that gets a double bye in the conference tournament. The Demon Deacons are one game ahead of the group of four contenders behind them.

The interwoven four teams must all play each other once with NC State having the toughest road out as they must face both Duke and UNC before the season ends.

Only seven games remain for The Seminoles and others, including Saturday's matchup with the Blue Devils.

ESPN favors Duke with a 73.6 percent chance to win. Other sites also favor the Blue Devils with a projected spread of -4.4 and a projected total of 149.7.

All stats are compiled from ESPN

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