A season sweep of Atlantic Coast Conference royalty would’ve been nice, but it wasn’t in the cards for No. 8 Florida State.
Duke made sure of that.
One week removed from a win against North Carolina, the Seminoles were looking to make it 2-for-2 against the ACC’s perennial powerhouses when they took on the No. 7 Blue Devils in Durham on Monday. But Duke prevailed, 70-65, knocking the Seminoles to No. 3 in the ACC standings.
But Florida State (20-4, 10-3) gets a chance to get back to its winning ways Saturday when it hosts Syracuse (14-10, 7-6) in Tallahassee, where the Seminoles are 12-0 this season.
However, shaking off the loss to Duke won’t be easy; the Seminoles felt like they left the win on the floor.
“Obviously, we got beat by a team that I thought was a lot more efficient than we were in the execution and the offense,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said after the game. “We didn’t shoot well from the three — we shoot about 40 percent in the league from three. We didn’t hit our free throws, and I think we gave up some offensive rebounds at tough points in the game.”
Florida State enters this game having won three of its last four, while it’s the exact opposite for Syracuse, which has lost three of its last four, including a 79-74 defeat to North Carolina State on Tuesday at home.
Syracuse was without junior star Elijah Hughes, who leads the team in scoring at 18.6 points per game. Hughes suffered what appeared to be a groin injury in pregame warm-ups, then played only three minutes before leaving the game. He likely will be out again against Florida State.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he couldn’t ever remember a player getting hurt in pregame warmups. And it was a big loss for his team.
“I’ve never had a player in 44 years get hurt in warmups, but there’s a first time for everything,” Boeheim told ESPN.com after the loss.
Syracuse trailed by just four points at halftime and made a push in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.
“I thought everybody did an unbelievable job,” Boeheim said. “When you lose your best player, one of the three or four best players in the league … it’s difficult. But they did everything they could; they got right back in it. They were very good today for not having (Elijah). Exceptionally good.”
Syracuse is in sixth place in the ACC standings and badly needs a win to improve its seeding for the upcoming ACC Tournament as well as its chances to make the NCAA Tournament.
The Orange currently are not projected to make the Big Dance, but with games against two top 10 ACC opponents left on their schedule (FSU and No. 5 Louisville next week), the Orange could bolster their resume with an upset in one of those contests.
With Hughes out, Syracuse’s leading scorer is now guard Buddy Boeheim (16.3 points per game), followed by fellow guard Joseph Girard (12.6) and forward Marek Dolezaj (10.5), who also leads the team in rebounds (6.9 per game).
Florida State is powered by a trio of guards: Devin Vassell (13.4 points per game), Trent Forrest (11.6) and M.J. Walker (10.4). Vassell also leads the team on the glass with an average of 5.3 rebounds per game.
–Field Level Media