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January 16, 2008

Late rally lifts No. 5 Duke over Florida State

Box score

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. For awhile it looked like No. 7 Duke might just lose a third straight time to Florida State, a team trying to get back to NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years.

But coach Mike Krzyzewski's youthful Blue Devils rallied from a second-half swoon just in time Wednesday night.

Jon Scheyer scored 21 points and four teammates combined to make eight straight free throws in the final 1:34 to beat Florida State 70-57 and snap the unlikely two-game losing streak to the Seminoles.

"For awhile there it looked like there's no way we're going to win it and (then) our kids got tough," Krzyzewski said. "After they had been the weakest they got to be the toughest. I don't know how that works, but it worked tonight."

Florida State took its only lead of the second half at 55-54 on Jason Rich's layup with 3:45 left before Duke put the game away with a closing 16-2 run. Kyle Singler's 3-pointer put the Blue Devils ahead for good with 3:30 to play.

"There are shots and then there are huge shots, and that was a huge shot," Krzyzewski said.

"That slowed our momentum," Rich said. "Actually stopped the momentum."

Duke (14-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) nearly blew a 17-point lead it built in the first half on a 16-0 run led by Scheyer, who had 10 points on a variety of shots in a span of just 1:35.

"We've struggled here in the past, but this is a new team," Scheyer said. "Last year they beat us at home so we had something to prove."

The Blue Devils led 34-22 at halftime before Rich, who had all 18 of his points in the second half, keyed the comeback by Florida State (12-6, 1-2).

"He imposed his will on us, which he can do," Krzyzewski said. "We just played harder."

Toney Douglas added 13 points for Florida State while Uche Echefu, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds in a double-overtime loss at Clemson on Saturday, was held to six points and seven rebounds.

"We got beat by a team that executed and maintained their poise for longer periods than we did," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "They have so many weapons."

Gerald Henderson added 11 points and Singler had 10 for Duke. Henderson's eight rebounds helped the Blue Devils to a 44-32 advantage on the boards.

"Different guys stepped up in different stretches, " said Greg Paulus, who had two steals, a layup and two free throws during Duke's decisive finish. "They made a good run but were able to fend them off."

Duke managed to get the road win despite shooting 43.9 percent and committing 20 turnovers. Florida State shot 35.5 percent.

For more coverage of Duke, visit DevilsIllustrated.com; for more on Florida State, visit Warchant.com.



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