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Down goes No. 6: FSU defeats Duke, 79-78, in overtime

Florida State defeated No. 6 Duke, 79-78, in overtime on Tuesday evening at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 10:31 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Noles247) - Florida State defeated No. 6 Duke, 79-78, in overtime on Tuesday evening at the Donald L. Tucker Center. RayQuan Evans, the king of clutch free throws, hit a pair with 12 seconds remaining to give FSU the lead. John Butler then swatted an attempt in the paint by Wendell Moore Jr. with two seconds remaining to secure the victory. Court rush, commence.

FSU trailed Duke, 38-33, at the half. The Seminoles led by as many as four points in the opening 20 minutes, which saw 10 lead changes and five ties. Duke’s biggest lead in the first half was six points.

In the second half, FSU pushed their lead out to nine points (59-50), but the Blue Devils outscored FSU 17-8 down the stretch. A dunk by Duke’s Mark Williams gave the Blue Devils a 67-65 lead with 30 seconds remaining. Evans hit a lay-up off the high glass with just over a second remaining to force overtime.

“I think that one, that moment, I think it was a greater moment than the Miami one just because it is kind of a blue blood versus a new blood thing,” Evans said of his late-game heroics once again. “It was a very good competition down to the wire, so to be able to hit that shot and send us to overtime, I mean I’m glad I hit the shot. We had a chance to win the game. I am just very thankful for the way our team competed and we came out with the W.”

FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton has been the biggest fan of Evans since his arrival on campus. His loyalty to the veteran guard is paying off with big moments this season.

“He is very mature and he has a tremendous amount of character and he has given us tremendous leadership. Whenever the game is on the line he seems to always make the right decision,” Hamilton said. “We feel safe when he is going to the line and honestly those plays, those runners, he’s been doing that ever since he’s been here that’s a unique skill that he has to finish plays high off the backboard, to avoid getting his shot blocked. He’s given us more leadership, you saw him in the huddles, he’s taken the young guys under his wing, he’s really, really given us some really solid point guard play and he’s the difference as we move to the second half of our season.”

In total, the game featured 19 lead changes, including seven in overtime, and 11 ties.

With the overtime victory, the Seminoles (11-5, 5-2 ACC) earn a much-needed top-tier victory on the season by taking down the Blue Devils (14-3, 4-2 ACC). The victory marked FSU’s first victory over a nationally-ranked opponent on the season. They have now won four in a row and five of six since returning from a COVID pause that surrounded Christmas and lasted until the start of 2022.

“In our preparation for Duke, I thought that this edition of the Duke team was the most impressive, one of the most impressive ones that I’ve seen only because they seem to execute so well on the offensive end. Their spacing is such and they normally score bunches in the paint. I don’t know what we did tonight inside, but they normally just overwhelm you with offensive put backs. What we didn’t know, and the most challenging thing to prepare for as I look back at the game, is that I thought they did a tremendous job defensively. We never could get any type of offensive rhythm,” Hamilton said after the game. “The things that we have been working on all year long they seemed to have made us stagnant. They overplayed, they took a lot of things away from us so we had to improvise. Guys had to play a little bit out of offense. I thought that our effort was very good, we were extremely aggressive. They went to the zone defense there in the second half, because they very seldom ever use the zone, that surprised us a little bit. But you would think though because we just played a game against a two-three zone in Syracuse and spent all week that we would have been a little bit more mentally prepared. I thought was a very strong move on their part because we didn’t really expect them to play zone.

“But as fate would have it I thought our guys made the right plays, hit the right free- throws, we hit some threes, Caleb kind of gave us some offensive productivity, we got a big block there at the end,” Hamilton added.

Also, FSU has now won 13 consecutive overtime games, which furthers their national record in that statistical category.

Caleb Mills led FSU with 18 points, including multiple big shots in overtime where he scored eight of FSU’s 12 points in the extra period. Butler added a career-high 14 points and the all-important late swat, one of two he had in the game.

“There is no doubt that John Butler is just growing up in front of our eyes,” Hamilton said. “There’s not another seven foot one in the country that’s been asked to do what we are asking him to do. He has a tremendous amount of adjustment he has to make in terms of guarding the ball full court, moving the ball down court in transition, switching on all five positions, we are really really tempted to do that same things that guards do. He’s rising to the occasion and tonight he took a step a little further. He shot the ball well from the perimeter, just did a great job containing the dribble, and with his length and his size and wingspan I thought made a big difference in them not making some of the plays that they normally make.”

Naheem McLeod, who started for the second consecutive game, scored a career-high nine points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds. Evans had just six points, but did lead the team with five assists and three steals on the evening.

Malik Osborne, who sat out Saturday’s victory at Syracuse, returned to action and gutted out 32 minutes of play. He contributed seven points and seven rebounds. Tanor Ngom returned after missing nine games and not playing since November 24th, playing just a minute. As a whole, FSU’s bench gave the Seminoles 23 points on the evening.

On the evening, the Seminoles were just 26-of-73 (35.6%) from the floor, including 7-of-25 (28.0%) from deep. They were strong at the free throw line, hitting 20-of-25 (80.0%) of their attempts. FSU had a 42-37 rebounding advantage, including 19 offensive boards that led to 12 second-chance points. The Seminoles had 13 assists, compared to a season-low five turnovers. They also recorded four blocks and nine takeaways.

Duke was led by Paolo Banchero’s double-double, and near triple-double, with 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. They were 27-of-55 (49.1%) from the field and 10-of-23 (43.5%) from deep as a team. They hit 14-of-18 (77.8%) of their free throw attempts. The Blue Devils had 20 assists and 15 turnovers. They finished with five blocks and two steals.

The Seminoles are now 11-41 all-time against the Blue Devils. At the Tucker Center, the series now stands at 16-8 in Duke’s favor. FSU’s victory snapped a five-game winning streak for the Blue Devils against the Seminoles that dated back to the 2017 season. Tuesday’s game marked the final one for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski at FSU.

“It was a tremendous basketball game. Great crowd, two teams that played their hearts out. I thought it was the most physical game we’ve been in. They knocked us back for most of the first half, and at the end of the first half we took some control. And then right away at the start of the second half, they dominated those first four minutes and set a tone where we could’ve been knocked out. We kind of hung in there, and in the last seven-eight minutes, we changed defenses. That gave us a little bit of rest and I thought it slowed down the momentum of the game. The momentum of the game was definitely going in their favor for most of the game,” Krzyzewski said after the game. “Our kids fought like crazy and I thought [RayQuan] Evans made a really tough shot to tie the game, but that’s what he does. He’s a veteran with a big-time shot, and then he made big-time free throws to close out the overtime. [Caleb] Mills made a huge three in the overtime. [It was a] tough loss for us. Congratulations to them – Leonard [Hamilton’s] team played their hearts out.”

Hamilton, who now has eight wins over Duke, also set a national record with his 55th victory against a ranked opponent with an unranked team in his coaching career, surpassing Bob Knight.

FSU returns to action on Thursday at noon when they host North Florida. The game with the Ospreys was rescheduled after being postponed on December 21st. It will be shown on ACC Network Extra.

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