TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When No. 5 Duke met No. 15 Florida State for the first time this season, the Seminoles’ timely 3-point shooting ended the Blue Devils’ 45-game home win streak.
This time around, Andre Dawkins returned the favor with six 3-pointers of his own as Duke registered a 74-66 victory at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
“We know they like to converge a lot on drives,” Dawkins said. “So we wanted to be ready for kicks, be ready to shoot. And we did a good job of that today.”
The Blue Devils (24-4, 11-2 in the ACC) took advantage early and often, making 13-of-28 attempts from 3-point territory on the night. The game was not all long-range sharpshooting though, as the two squads traded blows from the tip and exchanged a series of runs throughout the contest.
Duke struck first, with an 11-4 run to start the game that was bookended by an Austin Rivers 3-pointer and a Miles Plumlee put-back dunk. The Seminoles (19-8, 10-3) came right back with a 9-1 run resulting in their only lead of the game at 13-12 near the midway point of the first half.
Then Dawkins took over. The junior guard scored 12 of the Blue Devils’ next 14 points, nailing three shots from long range plus three foul shots. Just four minutes after Florida State had taken the lead, Dawkins’ third 3-pointer gave Duke a 26-17 advantage with 8:25 remaining in the half—a lead the Blue Devils would not relinquish. The sharpshooter finished with a game-high 22 points behind a 5-for-7 performance from beyond the arc in the first half.
Although Dawkins set the tone for Duke in the first period and gave the squad a seven-point lead at the break, it was Rivers who made sure to finish the job in the second frame. The freshman opened the half with back-to-back 3-pointers on the Blue Devils’ first two possessions, but it was his dribble penetration that made the difference for Duke.
When the Seminoles fought their way back to a six-point deficit, Rivers took the ball at the top of the arc and drove to the right, pulling defenders in from the perimeter and leaving Ryan Kelly wide open in front of the Blue Devils’ bench. Rivers immediately kicked the ball out to the 6-foot-11 forward, who knocked down the 3-pointer and drew a foul that led to a four-point play.
“Rivers is a handful for anyone,” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. “It’s important to know that they executed their system…. They set excellent ball screens and they have guys who set screens and roll. So you have to worry about containing the dribble and then getting back to a great player, and then keep them out of the lane and not allow them to get clean looks from three.”
Rivers sealed the game for Duke with two key plays in the closing minutes. With the Blue Devils up five with about a minute and a half remaining, Rivers drew out two defenders trying to stop his drive and managed to find Miles Plumlee under the basket for a layup. At the other end—after Plumlee fouled out—Florida State looked to inbound the ball from the baseline on its offensive end, down six points with just over a minute to play. Rivers picked off the ensuing lob near half court and dished the ball to Kelly, who knocked down two free throws to seal the win for Duke.
Rivers finished 6-for-16 from the field, but added four rebounds and four assists in addition to his 20 points in what may have been his most complete game of the year.
“Where Austin is at is a completely different place than where he was a month ago,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Austin played a great basketball game tonight. He looked like a senior out there, and that’s the way he’s been playing. He just keeps getting better.”