“They played like men, we played like boys”, that is how Mike Krzyzewski described his teams play against Miami last week. Last night’s game against Florida State was another story. Duke continued to get after it on the defensive end following their lackluster effort the last time they were in the state of Florida. Their effort level and intensity was palatable. Their hands, feet and lips were all moving as a team, the entire game.
At the end of the first half FSU had 22 points, nearly 10 points off their season average And despite having a, seemingly, more athletic and complete front court only managed 9 points in the first half from their big men, even though Duke is still missing Ryan Kelly. The Blue Devils were in the passing lanes, jumping screens and boxing out on every shot. It was an impressive showing of fundamental defensive basketball. Not that this should surprise anyone who has followed Coach K teams. The Seminoles had to scrape and crawl their way into shooting just 41% from the field and 23% from behind the arc. This is the type of defensive effort that can carry Duke deep into March.
Offensive efficiency was also a huge reason for their defensive intensity. Saying they were on fire would not be giving them justice. Duke finished the game shooting over 60% from both the field and from three point range. This kind of efficiency limits opponent’s transition opportunities and adds to team enthusiasm. The enthusiasm was obvious on the Blue Devil side as they were chirping the entire game. It was obvious that they had not forgotten that FSU had ended their 45 game home win streak two weeks ago and were taking joy in handling the Seminoles on both ends of the court.
Inspired defense like this means Duke can make it through ACC play and into March while Kelly recovers from his injury. If the Blue Devils continues to put the MAN in man to man defense, any team in the nation is going to struggle to score on them.