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X-Factor: Williams' hot streak can help Duke men's basketball in rematch against a weakened Florida State

Williams is averaging three blocks per game, and had a big game in the Bleu Devils' last meeting with Florida State.
Williams is averaging three blocks per game, and had a big game in the Bleu Devils' last meeting with Florida State.

After a close 76-74 win against Wake Forest, Duke will look to get its revenge against Florida State on Saturday in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Zone takes a look at each team’s X-factor for the weekend matchup:

Duke: Mark Williams

Mark Williams has been a difference maker for Duke as of late. The sophomore has been extremely aggressive in the paint on both sides of the ball, which has clearly energized the other Blue Devils. The Virginia Beach, Va., native has had a vicious post-up game with 10.6 points per game, and he’s been a blocking machine with 3.0 blocks per game. Williams was especially good Tuesday against Wake Forest as he complimented his game-winning tap in with 16 points and 10 rebounds, giving him yet another double-double. The sophomore center looks to be getting hot at just the right time, as the Blue Devils approach the end of ACC play and start to think about NCAA tournament seedings. 

Williams’ aggressiveness and energy will play a major role in Duke’s matchup against Florida State. The Seminoles have a big lineup with 7-foot-1 Tanner Ngom at center and 7-foot-1 John Butler at forward. Williams’ rebounding and blocking ability will be very important for the Blue Devils as Florida State will definitely look to go inside to its bigs. Despite the fact that Duke lost to the Seminoles in January, Williams had an impressive 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. If the former McDonald's All-American center can play to this level and defend the paint on Saturday, Duke should be able to get its revenge against Florida State.

Florida State: John Butler

In Florida State’s tough loss to North Carolina Saturday, its leading scorer Caleb Mills had to leave the game due to an ankle injury. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard has been the Seminoles’ elusive scorer that has been giving opponents headaches. Mills missed Florida State’s competition on Tuesday against Clemson, but it’s yet to be determined if the sophomore will suit up against Duke on Saturday. 

Someone needs to step up, and that someone will be Butler. Butler is a 7-foot-1 versatile forward that gives Florida State a creative scoring option with his ability to go inside and capitalize from beyond the arc. Given that the Blue Devils have a big lineup, we can expect the freshman to get a lot of minutes in order to defend Duke’s height. Butler caused a lot of problems for the Blue Devils in their last meeting, when he racked up 14 points. If Florida State wants to shut out Duke in head coach Mike Krzyzewski's last year, Butler will be the key that defends the Blue Devils’ length and offers a consistent scoring option.

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