It’s back to reality in a hurry for No. 7 Duke.
After an epic overtime victory against North Carolina on Saturday, the Blue Devils host a top-10 showdown on Monday night against visiting No. 8 Florida State at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
“I think we feel pretty confident,” Duke freshman Cassius Stanley said. “We’re just worried about right now winning games in the ACC and trying to get the best record we possibly can.”
While it might be impossible to replicate the drama from Saturday night’s 98-96 overtime comeback at rival North Carolina, the Blue Devils will be challenged to rediscover the energy level.
“Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) always talks about preparing for the moment and that’s a moment I wanted to be in, hitting a big shot like that in a big game like this,” said Duke guard Tre Jones, whose jumper at the buzzer sent the Blue Devils and Tar Heels into overtime.
Now there’s another big game. Duke (20-3, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) and No. 8 Florida State (20-3, 10-2) are tied for second place in the ACC, 1.5 games behind Louisville.
Jones, a sophomore guard, turned in a superb performance down the stretch in Chapel Hill.
“Tre Jones was magnificent in leading us,” Krzyzewski said. “He was at another level, and we won because of that kid. I thought anything he did (in that game) might work.”
Jones scored 15 consecutive points for Duke, with the final nine in regulation and the first six in overtime. He ended up with 28 points.
“It all started with Tre,” said forward Wendell Moore Jr., whose putback of Jones’ shot at the overtime buzzer provided the winning points. “Tre had that look in his eye. When he had that look, we knew that we could follow him to victory.”
Florida State posted a 99-81 home win against Miami on Saturday, sweeping its in-state rival after needing overtime in a matchup on Jan. 18.
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said his team should be ready for a significant road challenge.
“We have played a lot of tough games on the road,” Hamilton said. “In order to prepare for those road games, you have to come up with an approach that’s realistic. What we try to teach our guys is to stay in the moment.”
This is the second week in a row that Florida State will play on a Monday night following a Saturday game. Last time, it was a road game at Virginia Tech followed by a home game against North Carolina, while it’s the other way around for this pair.
“It happens to be during a real, real tough part of the year,” Hamilton said. “That’s the nature of what television has done to the sport. That’s a good problem to have when you play one-day turnaround games, so you can play ‘Big Monday’ and get all the exposure that all these (players) grow up wanting in the first place. So as the young folks say, I guess it’s all good.”
Duke, which is riding a five-game winning streak, played its past three games on the road. It’s the first time they’ve played three straight ACC road games and won them all since the 1978-79 season.
Duke has won 40 of the 50 all-time meetings with Florida State. Last season, that included Cam Reddish’s buzzer-beating winner in the regular season and a victory in the ACC Tournament final.
–Field Level Media