Coming off its first road win of the season against Wake Forest Wednesday night, No. 5 Duke (18-2, 5-2 in the ACC) will face Florida State (12-8, 4-3) at 2 p.m. in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Blue Devils defeated the Seminoles on the road last season but lost to them at home and in the ACC tournament.
Here are your three keys to today’s game:
High scoring output from the seniors
Senior Mason Plumlee’s career-high 32-point performance propelled Duke to victory against the Demon Deacons while classmate Seth Curry chipped in 21 points. Although freshmen Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaimon have shown flashes of brilliance over the course of the season, they can’t be relied on for consistency. Jefferson was scoreless against Wake Forest, and Sulaimon had a quiet game as well, only scoring six points after dropping a career-high 25 points against Maryland in the game before. A good showing from the seniors in this afternoon’s matchup will be crucial to earning another road win.
Taking care of the ball
The Blue Devils turned the ball over 15 times against the Demon Deacons. Plumlee was responsible for seven of these turnovers, with three of them due to offensive foul calls. Playing 36 minutes, he had the ball in his hands a lot, but seven turnovers is still too many. Against a Florida State squad that is looking to capitalize on the Blue Devils’ mistakes and hand them another ugly defeat, it will be important for Duke to play a cleaner game and take better care of the rock. And, of course, much of that burden falls on point guard Quinn Cook, who turned it over three times against Wake Forest, just his second three-turnover game since the end of November.
In their second road trip in four days, the Blue Devils will need to battle fatigue, especially with limited depth because of Ryan Kelly’s continued absence due to a foot injury. Duke has struggled in true road games this season, falling to No. 19 N.C. State and No. 14 Miami and eking out a close win against an unranked Wake Forest squad. After playing the Demon Deacons, the Blue Devils had little time to recover before they traveled to Tallahassee. They will need to start fresh from the opening whistle, a task that they have struggled with throughout the season, to avenge their loss to the Seminoles in the ACC tournament last season.