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In need of an RPI-boosting win for its dwindling NCAA Tournament hopes, Florida State fell in an early 16-point hole and never recovered as it was blown out by No. 5 Duke 79-60 in Tallahassee on Saturday.
The Blue Devils came out red-hot and took control of the game, going up 11-0 before Florida State had its first points 3:59 into the contest.
The loss dropped Florida State to 12-9 overall and 4-4 in the ACC, while Duke moved to 19-2 and 6-2 in the ACC.
"We had a very difficult time disrupting Duke's rhythm on the defensive end," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "They were able to pretty much get the ball where they wanted to in a timely fashion with their shooters."
Duke led 18-2 just six minutes into the game and led by as many as 28 points early in the second half. Down big early, FSU forced shots and let the game get further away. Duke never looked back and didn't trail once in the game.
"When they went up 18-2, it's like we just shut down," freshman Aaron Thomas said. "Like the game was over. Once it went 18-2 everybody just thought the game was over and we didn't come out with high intensity and energy."
It was the Blue Devils' shooting that allowed them to never feel the pressure of a Seminoles comeback.
Duke hit 31 of 51 (60.8 percent) shots from the floor, including 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) from three-point range. Seth Curry had a game-high 21 points as he hit five threes. Quinn Cook added 18 points as he hit four three-point shots.
"Our guys played a terrific basketball game," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. " It's tough to single out any one guy. We had 20 assists on 30 baskets and I thought Quinn really ran our team well. The defense was superb."
As the Blue Devils knocked down big shot after big shot, the Seminoles shooting never allowed them to even think of chipping away at the lead. FSU shot 41.8 percent from the floor, but hit just 3 of 13 three-pointers. In the first half FSU hit just 8 of 26 shots from the field.
"Early on I thought we had tremendous looks," Hamilton said. "A couple of point-blank lay-ups, a couple wide-open 14-footers, a couple threes. Early on in the game I thought we both were getting similar opportunities. They finished theirs, we didn't make ours and we dug a hole for ourselves early.
"I didn't really feel they would continue to keep shooting that way, and I felt that if we executed we would find a way to creep back into the game. But that really never happened."
FSU leading scorer Michael Snaer had just seven points, and was just 3 of 13 from the floor, including 1 of 4 from three-point range. Snaer did have a team-high five rebounds, but didn't score his first points until the 15:14 mark in the second half.
Thomas was the lone Seminole in double figures with 14 points. Okaro White and Kiel Turpin each added seven points.
"We just tried to space the floor and attack. Get easier points like that," Thomas said. "But like I said, we just didn't come out as a team and execute. All that really doesn't matter, what I did on the offensive end, if we didn't execute as a team."
The loss, while perhaps expected, puts FSU back in the hole it felt it had climbed out of behind a few Snaer buzzer beaters earlier this week. With a trio of poor non-conference losses, FSU will have to try and find a way to get to double-digit wins in ACC play if it's going to have a shot at the NCAA tournament.
Hamilton said with six home losses, FSU will have to find a way to start picking up road wins down the stretch to have a shot at the tournament, beginning on Tuesday night in Atlanta at Georgia Tech.
"There's one good thing about being in the ACC. You can have a pity party for a few minutes, and then you've got to know right around the corner is another team coming up," Hamilton said. "We've got to go up to Georgia Tech and do a full count of ourselves on Tuesday night, with very little turnaround and very little time to prepare."