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Then and now: How has Duke men's basketball changed since its first matchup with Florida State?

Paolo Banchero had a big game against Florida State, leading the charge in the final stretch of regulation to push the matchup to overtime.
Paolo Banchero had a big game against Florida State, leading the charge in the final stretch of regulation to push the matchup to overtime.

Before Duke hosts Florida State Saturday, the Blue Zone brings you back a few weeks to the first time the two teams played and previews the upcoming rematch:

Then

Couldn’t close

In a season filled with almosts and close calls, the first Florida State matchup of the season sparks that same gut-wrenching reaction from the Blue Devils faithful. An elite performance by Paolo Banchero closed the gap and sent the game to overtime, but Wendell Moore Jr. couldn’t get a clean shot off, and the Seminoles were up by one when the buzzer went off. This trend has been common throughout Duke’s losses, which have all been by just a few points, and with their similar loss to Virginia still fresh, the Blue Devils surely have the first matchup's end at the forefront of their minds.

Keels goes down

About halfway through the second half, Trevor Keels went down with an awkward leg injury. He left the game with nine points, two rebounds and two assists on a suboptimal shooting day. Even if it wasn’t his most explosive performance, his presence was sorely missed during overtime as the team was forced to adjust and adapt without one of their starters. Their efforts were not enough, however, and they fell in overtime without Keels on the floor. 

Sloppy play

The Blue Devils are no strangers to turnover problems. In their four losses, they are losing the ball an average of 13.3 times a game. Duke exceeded that number against Florida State, turning the ball over 15 times. Moore and Banchero each contributed four to that total. The messy play was not confined to ball control, however; the Blue Devils also struggled with boards. Defensive boards, especially. The Seminoles had 19 offensive rebounds, dominating under their own basket, and tallied 26 total points off of turnovers or on second chances. 

Now

Consistency

No matter how talented the Blue Devils' roster is, they have struggled with in-game consistency all season long. They play their best in spurts, then seem to fall into lulls. With only a few games left in the regular season, Duke needs to demonstrate that it can play, and play to the best of its ability, for the full 40 minutes. This must start against Florida State. They are at home in Cameron Indoor Stadium, in front of a sure to be roaring crowd, on Senior Night. If there were ever a time to show up and show out, it’s Saturday night. 

The little things

It’s the things that often go unnoticed that tend to set Duke apart. Whether it be Jeremy Roach’s ability to share the ball on offense or Theo John’s physical domination of his opponents, the Blue Devils are more than what makes the headlines. Every piece of the puzzle must fit together to get past the Seminoles, and everyone must execute. More than just playing their individual roles, they all need to play clean basketball. That means limiting turnovers, being aggressive on the boards and taking smart shots. The team is more than capable of playing a clean game; it’s a question of if they will. 

Banchero in his element

Coming off of a game in which he played maybe his worst half of the year, all eyes are on Banchero to prove that he is worthy of not only a top NBA draft pick but being the face and leader of this Duke team. In their first matchup, Banchero dominated the Seminoles for 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, picking apart their defense in the final five minutes of regulation for seven of those points. Duke needs Banchero to do what he does best: play quiet basketball that has the opponent on their heels before they know what hit them. 

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