When Duke met Florida State early in ACC play last winter, the Seminoles overwhelmed the undersized Blue Devils in the second half with their size and speed.
The roles were reversed Saturday afternoon.
No. 4 Duke beat the 24th-ranked Seminoles 100-93 at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday afternoon in its ACC home opener, getting double-doubles and 37 combined rebounds from freshmen big men Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. Bagley led the way with 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting and 21 boards, and he had several putback dunks to help the Blue Devils score 28 second-chance points and outrebound Florida State 53-35.
“We couldn’t stop each other, and the will to score and will to win was evident every second by both teams, and for us to win that game is sensational for our group,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “When you win a game where both teams are worthy of winning, it's impressive. Sometimes both teams don't deserve to win, but today, both teams did."
With Duke trailing by two in the final three minutes, freshman point guard Trevon Duval powered into the lane with a strong runner to tie it and then dished an assist to Carter under the basket for a dunk. Carter—playing with four fouls—took a charge and successfully defended another drive on the other end, and Duval took it strong to the hoop again to put the Blue Devils ahead by four.
Duval scored nine of Duke's last 16 points to help the Blue Devils close the game on a 16-5 run in the last four minutes.
"Trevon had such a disjointed game with his fouls, but the last three minutes or so, he really helped win the game for us," Krzyzewski said. "When we didn’t have him in at times, we didn’t execute quick enough."
Facing its biggest deficit of eight points early in the second half, Duke exploded for a 14-0 run in a span of 90 seconds. Grayson Allen, Bagley and Gary Trent Jr. all knocked down 3-pointers—Bagley was fouled while shooting his from the corner—and Bagley followed that up with an offensive rebound and a dunk.
“That was just heart, just the will to when you see the ball bounce of the rim, just to fight and do whatever you’ve got to do to get up there and get it for your team,” Bagley said of his 11 offensive boards. “You can’t teach it. You’ve just got to play, and I just try to play every game like it’s my last game.”
By the time it was done, Cameron was louder than it has been yet this season, Seminole head coach Leonard Hamilton threw his jacket to the ground as he flailed for a timeout and Florida State's bench was whistled for a technical foul, giving Allen two free throws to put the Blue Devils ahead 61-55.
“When we get on a run and that crowd goes nuts, that’s the first time they’ve had that. You being 18 and 19, you’d be dancing around. It’d be tough to get on after the timeout to the next play,” Krzyzewski said. “The euphoria of being in that moment is incredible, and they experienced that about three times today and were able to continue on and win. Psychologically, that’s a big thing.”
Even Allen, who has played in his share of big games in Cameron, said the intensity of the winter-break crowd took him by surprise.
"For there not to be any students here right now and for the crowd to still be like that is incredible," Allen said. "All the Duke fans that are a little bit older than what we usually have, they still brought it. They still had it going."
The Seminoles did not back down and had one more run in the tank thanks to a flurry of 3-pointers—they shot 15-of-32 from deep on the afternoon. Braian Angola scored 23 points and knocked down three go-ahead 3-pointer in the last 10 minutes—the lead changed hands 10 times in that span—but Florida State ran out of steam at the end.
Duke had no answer for Phil Cofer in the first half, as Florida State's senior forward scored 22 points before the break on 9-of-10 shooting with four 3-pointers. He banked in a triple with a little more than a minute left to give the Seminoles the lead for the first time since the opening minutes, and Florida State took a 49-45 lead in the locker room.
But Cofer quieted down with just six points in the second half, and he was part of a frontcourt that was helpless defensively against Bagley as the freshman delivered arguably his best performance of an already unprecedented season. It was the first time any Krzyzewski player has had at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in his 38 years at Duke.
“It’s really easy if he’s open to just get him the ball. For me, I just give him the ball and get spaced a little bit, and if they double off me, I’ll shoot it, but if not, he’s just going to work,” Allen said. “I still think it was the quietest 30 and 20 I’ve ever seen, and he does it every single time, because I looked up at the end, and I was looking at our team fouls, and he had like 20-something and 17.
“I was like, ‘There is no way,’ but he just continuously does it. He’s incredible.”
Duval picked up his second foul less than three minutes into the game when he pushed off while going up for a driving layup and only played nine minutes in the first half, forcing Allen and backup point guard Jordan Goldwire to split the primary ball-handling duties when he was out.
The result? A more stagnant offense than the Blue Devils have seen in recent games, with just six assists in the first half, but they picked it up with 13 assists in the second half.
Duke will have another week off before it plays for its first ACC road win next Saturday at N.C. State.
“That was a big-time win. [Coach K] said we were going to get a really good ACC basketball game and we got a great one, so that was a huge win for us,” Allen said. “But at the same time, tomorrow it means nothing. Tomorrow we get our feet back and we get ready for N.C. State.”