The city of Tallahassee was as energized for a basketball game as it has been in years.
FSU guard Michael Snaer said he "didn't understand" the Seminoles' defensive lapses.
The Donald L. Tucker Center was as loud for a basketball game as it has been in years.
And the Florida State Seminoles entered it in the midst of an Atlantic Coast Conference campaign as memorable – and successful, through 11 games – as any in recent years.
And on a night when all of those held true, the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils lined up and gave the Seminoles their best shot.
Then they gave them several more. Thirteen, to be exact – the number of 3-pointers that Duke made in a 74-66 win over the No. 15 Seminoles (19-8, 10-3 ACC) Thursday night.
“When you allow them to do what they do best and knock down threes, it's very difficult for us to get over the hump,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “When you're trying to stop penetration and keep them out of the lane, and then defend the 3-point shot, that was a difficult task for us. And we came up short tonight.”
Duke finished 42.3 percent (13-of-28) from beyond the arc – well above its season average of 35.2 – and scored more than half its total points via the three. Junior guard Andre Dawkins came into the came averaging just 9.4 points per game, but thanks to a 6-of-9 performance from 3-point range, finished with a game-high 22.
Freshman standout Austin Rivers also contributed, connecting on four 3-pointers and four assists.
“His strength is shooting 3s and getting to the basket,” Hamilton said. “So that's a tough combination.”
The Blue Devils (24-4, 11-2 ACC), of course, knocked down the shots. But after the game, several Seminoles felt that they made it too easy for Duke on the offensive end.
“We let one of the best shooters on their team hit I don't know how many open looks, and that's not our defense at all,” FSU guard Michael Snaer said. “I didn't understand that.”
Added center Bernard James: “It seemed like they couldn't miss because we kept giving them open shots, we kept giving them exactly what they wanted. We didn't make that adjustment to stop them from doing what they were doing really well, what was hurting us.
“We should have had them driving to the basket and making their little guards finish over two 7-footers.”
And as the Blue Devils drained shot after shot, they slowly drained the life out of the sell-out crowd of 12,100, most of which had lined up around the arena well before the doors opened.
Duke's win spoiled an otherwise banner night for the Florida State basketball program, which was a participant in a contest between two top-15 teams for only the fifth time in school history.
“It was a great atmosphere, unbelievable atmosphere for us to get a victory in,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
“We were amped the entire game, we just didn't play too smart at times,” James said. “And there's nothing the fans can do to help us with that.”