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Key three: Duke men’s basketball needs to keep up the pressure against a deep Florida State team

Marques Bolden will be important for the Blue Devils Saturday.
Marques Bolden will be important for the Blue Devils Saturday.

After defeating Wake Forest in its first true road game of the season, top-ranked Duke will take on No. 13 Florida State Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla. The Blue Zone breaks down three aspects of the game that could tilt the contest in the Blue Devils’ favor as they look to keep their undefeated ACC record intact:

Who’s “the guy” for Florida State?

Despite the two leading scorers from last season’s Elite Eight squad returning, in Terance Mann and Phil Cofer, Florida State lacks true offensive starpower. Mann, who is the de facto go-to option for the Seminoles, is incredibly streaky—the 6-foot-7 guard followed up a dominant 22-point performance against Winthrop with a scoreless dud against No. 4 Virginia. 

Inconsistency from Mann and Cofer, who has struggled to stay healthy, does not spell inconsistency for the Florida State offense as a whole. Six Seminoles have been the leading scorer in a single game this year, compared to just two such players for Duke. This is an extremely balanced offensive attack, and there’s no telling which of Florida State weapons will step up Saturday.

Make Florida State cough up the ball

With ballhawks such as Tre Jones and Cam Reddish, the Blue Devils create one of the most hostile environments for opponents, ranking No. 5 in total team steals nationally. In fact, Duke is currently on an 8-game streak of forcing 15 or more turnovers, which is already six games longer than its longest such stretch a year ago.

Coming up with turnovers allows the Blue Devils to get in transition, where they are perhaps the most gifted bunch in the country at finishing. Zion Williamson is nearly unstoppable with momentum—seriously, not too many people want to stand between the hyper-athletic 287-pound forward and the basket. 

Luckily for Duke, this is a Seminole team that is sloppy with the ball at times, and its 20.6 percent turnover rate is good for just the 267th-best mark in college basketball. If the Blue Devils can pressure the ball and jump the passing lanes, this may be a long afternoon for Florida State.

Feed the ‘Ques

Although Javin DeLaurier has taken over for Marques Bolden in the starting lineup, Bolden has made perhaps the most significant offensive impact of his career in Duke’s last two contests, as he put up consecutive double-digit scoring games for the first time.

While the Blue Devils certainly aren’t desperate for buckets, as they rank third nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency according to, Bolden is the only true post option for head coach Mike Krzyzewski to turn to. If the Seminoles are able to force Duke out of transition and into half court sets, effectively feeding Bolden in the post will be key.


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