The last time No. 4 Duke played in a conference game, its young team learned the games would be tight and that nothing would come easy. Boston College took it to Duke on Dec. 9 and won in a tight game 89-84.
Saturday’s conference game against No. 24 Florida State had a similar feel. The Seminoles led Duke at halftime by four points behind senior forward Phil Cofer’s near-perfect shooting. Cofer, who hit 11 of his first 12 shots, set a career-high with 22 points in the first half.
But Duke – even after finding itself down by eight points – found a way to come back and win 100-93.
It was Duke’s first conference win of the season.
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“That was an amazing game, because both teams played great,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We couldn’t stop each other. And the will to win and will to score was evidence by both teams. For us to win that game, is sensational for our group. Four freshmen.”
Duke (13-1, 1-1 ACC) led the game for most of the first half. The game remained close however.
But Florida State (11-2, 0-1) ended the last 1:26 of the first half on a 7-1 run to take the lead. The Seminoles extended their lead to eight during the first few minutes of the second half.
Then Duke went on a 14-0 run that included three 3-pointers, one in which Marvin Bagley III was fouled. From there, the game went back and forth as both teams traded leads.
To come back, Duke did what it did best: attacked the offensive glass. Duke had 28 second-chance points. Both freshman forwards Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. had career-highs in rebounds. Bagley tallied 32 points and 21 rebounds. Carter had 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Senior guard Grayson Allen added 22 points and six assists, and freshman point guard Trevon Duval had 16 points. Duval was in foul trouble early in the game. He picked up his fourth foul with 12:56 left in the second half.
“He came in and played some in the first half with two (fouls), but he played like he had two,” Krzyzewski said of Duval. “I told him, ‘you can’t do that. We’d rather not have you in the game.’ So he got his third, and then he got four, and I said ‘you can’t play this last four minutes like you did the first half. You’ve got to play like you have no fouls and be a man. Be mature.’”
He scored nine of his 16 points during the game’s final five minutes, including a key 3-pointer.
Duke took the lead for good with two minutes and 30 seconds left in the game. Carter scored on a dunk that put the Blue Devils up 95-93. But after being hot for nearly the entire game, the Seminoles would miss their final eight shots.