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Feb 15, 2024 1:56 pm

No. 9 Duke hopes to dodge upset bug at Florida State

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The top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference have fallen victim to several upsets over the past week.

No. 9 Duke hopes to avoid being the latest casualty when it travels to Tallahassee, Fla., to take on Florida State on Saturday.

Duke (19-5, 10-3 ACC) jumped to the No. 2 spot in the league thanks to Virginia’s home loss to Pittsburgh. The Blue Devils are just a half-game behind first-place North Carolina after the Tar Heels also lost Tuesday at Syracuse.

Duke has a three-game winning streak, most recently pulling away late from Wake Forest in a wire-to-wire 77-69 victory on Monday.

Leading the Demon Deacons by just three points with less than eight minutes left, Duke’s balanced scoring helped close out a Wake Forest squad that Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer believes is an NCAA Tournament-caliber team.

“I don’t know how you think (Wake) is not a tournament team,” Scheyer said. “They’re really good and they kept answering. But for us to not give them the lead for 40 minutes, I think that’s a big time thing.”

Duke’s scoring was led by sophomores Mark Mitchell and Kyle Filipowski with 23 and 21 points, respectively.

“I thought Mark and Flip were men,” Scheyer added. “I thought they were really tough tonight. Anybody who doubts their toughness or what they’re about, they don’t know Mark Mitchell and they don’t know Kyle Filipowski.”

Filipowski leads Duke’s scoring on the season with 17.4 points per game, followed by Jeremy Roach’s 13.9

Florida State (13-11, 7-6) has dropped four of its last five games and is searching for answers on the defensive end.

In its last three losses, the Seminoles have allowed an average of 88 points per game. Florida State gives up 74.7 points per game on the season, third most in the conference.

The defensive woes were on display Tuesday, as the Seminoles allowed 44 second-half points in their 83-75 loss at Virginia Tech.

Florida State was also outrebounded by the Hokies 35-23, with 15 of those from Virginia Tech center Lynn Kidd.

“(Kidd) was definitely a problem for us,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “When Virginia Tech did miss, they were able to corral the rebounds and give them an extra possession.”

A bright spot in recent weeks for Florida State has been the offensive play of Jamir Watkins. The VCU transfer led the Seminoles with 26 points on Tuesday, following the 21 he had against Virginia last week.

The do-it-all forward leads Florida State in scoring (14.5), rebounding (5.8), assists (2.8) and steals (1.8).

“(Jamir) has had a great year for us,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had somebody who’s led us in scoring, rebounding and assists.”

Following Watkins’ scoring is Darin Green Jr., who adds 11.8 points per game.

The last time the Seminoles hosted Duke, they upset the No. 6 Blue Devils 79-78 in overtime on Jan. 18, 2022.

–Field Level Media

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