Next up for Duke is Florida State, and while Leonard Hamilton’s bunch appears to have taken a step or two back this season, they’re still dangerous: as long as they have a shot in the end, they have Michael Snaer to take it, and he’s probably the best ACC clutch shooter since Christian Laettner.
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He did it to Duke last year with a Cameron buzzer beater; he did it to Maryland just this week.
Florida State’s problem has been the other guys scoring – or not.
Snaer is hitting 14.2 ppg but otherwise only Okaro White is in double figures with 12.7 ppg.
Unlike recent years, the Seminoles are really struggling inside. Kiel Turpin (son of the late Kentucky star Mel) is averaging just 4.3 ppg and 2.4 boards. Boris Bojanovksy, a 7-3 newcomer, adds 2.4 and 2.0 respectively.
Terrance Shannon has definitely had his moments, but he’s also had some injuries.
The rest are fairly negligible when it comes to offense.
However, Florida State sees this game as a “must-win,” with Snaer saying that “I’ve seen it catapult our season before, beating a higher ranked team. Hopefully we can do it again.”
They’ll have to keep the ball away from Mason Plumlee to do it.
Plumlee just ate Wake Forest alive inside. He’ll be a load for a team with a weak post presence, although to be sure, you can defend a center from the perimeter by making passing really difficult. Duke has done this for years.
The Devils will need more than Plumlee and Seth Curry, though. They’ll need the rookies – Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson – to really step up. They’ll also need a steady game from Quinn Cook at the point.
Mostly, though, they’ll need to match Florida State’s defensive intensity, particularly when it comes to Snaer. This could be a huge opportunity for Sulaimon, who the staff correctly sees as Duke’s best perimeter defender, to burnish his reputation.
Bottom line here: Duke can win on defense because FSU’s offense is erratic. It’s hard to see them winning a shootout.
Snaer is legitimately great with a huge instinct for the jugular. He and his teammates are excellent defenders. But their offense has not yet been consistently challenging.