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January 12, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -There was a difference, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton noticed, in Derwin Kitchen's eyes in the days leading up to Wednesday's contest with No. 1 Duke.
Kitchen has never been much of a vocal leader, never a heart-on-his-sleeve kind of guy.
But after the Seminoles' recent run of disappointment, it was clear to Hamilton and others that Kitchen, FSU's senior point guard, was deeply affected.
"I thought he was really disappointed not only in our team but in himself," Hamilton said. "In his own little quiet way, you could see a determined look in his eyes. And he wanted to make something happen tonight."
He made something happen, all right.
Just four days after being held scoreless for the first time in his career in a second straight loss for Florida State (they fell 71-59 at Virginia Tech), Kitchen turned in a torrid 22-point, 10 rebound performance that sparked the Seminoles' 66-61 win over the top-ranked Blue Devils. Kitchen, a Jacksonville native, posted team-highs in points and rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
"It feels great man," said Kitchen. "[Duke] is the only team, since we've been here, the group that came here with me, we never beat Duke (the Blue Devils had won five straight in the series). We always had opportunities, but we never beat Duke. It's a very good feeling to beat the No. 1 team in the country."
Following the game, Kitchen's teammates talked about how, for weeks, they wanted him to be aggressive; to take charge and attack on the offensive side of the court. Wednesday, he did just that. The results, of course, speak for themselves.
Kitchen scored 17 of his 22 in the second half. After Duke went on a 13-2 run to knot the game at 42-42, midway through the period, it was Kitchen who sank that 3-pointer that reclaimed the lead for FSU.
Moments later, after Kyle Singler tied it at 45, Kitchen went on a 5-point run of his own to give FSU - and the capacity crowd on-hand - a little space to breathe.
"Kitchen had just an incredible game," Duke coach Mike Kryzewski said.
Finally, when Nolan Smith's 3-point shot trimmed FSU's lead to 59-58 with just over two minutes to go, it was Kitchen's jumper on the ensuing possession that helped keep the Blue Devils at bay.
"I was just telling him, he went in to 'Beast Mode,'" FSU junior forward Bernard James said. "Toward the end of the second half, he was just getting buckets. He has a tendency to not be as aggressive on offense as we want him to. But today, the whole team was talking to him before the game, telling him to shoot the ball. When he's open, drive to the basket. He did that, and nobody could do anything with him."
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