No. 7 Duke sure would like to gloat. Not one, but two desperate game-saving plays in one game? A silent Dean Dome crowd and a sulky Franklin Street? Ridiculous. The memories will have to do, though, because the Blue Devils face a sturdy, eighth-ranked Florida State squad Monday night. Both teams boast star power, but two are most likely to make the difference:
Duke: Forward Wendell Moore Jr.
Moore’s game-winning layup Saturday night against North Carolina will go down in Duke men's basketball history, but it shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the freshman had his most complete game of the season against the Tar Heels. Along with Tre Jones, he was a huge reason why the Blue Devils were able to come back and win. Moore tied a career high with 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting. It’s fitting that the Charlotte, N.C. native stepped up in his home state’s biggest game, and he did so in a big way. Moore truly stuffed the stash sheet, complementing his scoring output with 10 rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.
Every game against the Tar Heels is a dog fight, but Florida State offers a more complete challenge. In order to overcome that challenge and pick up a defining ACC win, every player on Duke’s roster has to step up, and Moore is no exception. Saturday night was Moore’s first career double-double, and complete production of that sort will be pivotal against a top-10 opponent.
Florida State: Guard Devin Vassell
Vassell has been Florida State’s most dynamic offensive weapon this season. Not only is the sophomore leading the team with 13.5 points per game, but he’s also tallying 5.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per contest. The Georgia native has also been very efficient from the floor and beyond the arc, shooting 50.4 percent overall and 41.9 percent from deep. Another aspect of Vassell’s game that should grab Duke’s attention is his prowess on the road.
Duke has been susceptible to players who have the ability to light it up from deep like Vassell, and if he gets hot from beyond the arc Monday, it could spell trouble. Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire should be able to help quiet Vassell and force other Seminoles to step up. However, the Blue Devils lack a lights-out shooter, which could make it difficult to keep up with the Seminoles if Vassell plays up to his potential.