Young paces No. 17 Duke past Florida State, 86-67

duke basketball
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

DURHAM, N.C. — Ryan Young’s best performance in a Duke uniform looked almost perfect.

Young came off the bench for a season-high 20 points, going 7 for 7 from the field, and the No. 17 Blue Devils beat Florida State 86-67 on Saturday.

Young, a graduate transfer from Northwestern, had 12 rebounds and added to the quest for perfection by making all six free-throw attempts.

“I’m sure I’ll find something he could have done better, but he was pretty close,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said.

Jaylen Blakes scored 17 points in his first career start and reserve Dariq Whitehead added 16 points for Duke (11-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which is undefeated in eight home games.

Young deflected credit for his stellar outing.

“The guards were finding me in easy places to score,” he said.

Caleb Mills and Matthew Cleveland both scored 18 points and Darin Green Jr. added 16 for Florida State (4-11, 2-2), which remains winless in seven games away from home.

Even without retired Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski on the Duke bench, the Blue Devils looked familiar to veteran Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.

“Credit to (Scheyer) to get his guys to play the Duke way,” he said. “I didn’t see any difference from the way they played in the past.”

Blakes, a sophomore, had four of the 11 baskets from 3-point range for Duke, which was playing for the first time since a Dec. 20 loss at Wake Forest.

“They knew we had to be a lot better,” Scheyer said of his players after a holiday break. “I didn’t have to convince them of that.”

The Seminoles got to within 64-53 with less than nine minutes to play before the margin ballooned to 25 points.

“Hopefully, we can learn from this,” Hamilton said. “Learn what it takes to go out and play against a team that is extremely aggressive like this.”

Duke used a 10-0 run near the midway mark of the first half and led 42-25 at halftime behind 12 points from Young and 11 from Blakes. Three of the Blue Devils’ starters didn’t score in the first half and another, Jeremy Roach, was 1 for 7 from the field.

The Seminoles had their second-lowest first-half point total of the season.

“Our guards were doing a tremendous job of keeping them out of the paint and turning defense into offense,” Young said.

DEPTH FINDERS

A lineup tweak worked out for the Blue Devils. Blakes matched his career-high point total from the Wake Forest game.

“It’s an honor (to be a starter),” he said. “We’re all just building off each other. Whatever five guys are out there, we’re confident in.”

Scheyer said lineup adjustments shouldn’t be a surprise.

“We’ve used our depth as a strength and I don’t see that changing,” he said.

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The Seminoles were competitive for stretches but had gaps in defensive rebounding that proved costly. They got only eight points from reserves while Duke posted 46 points from its bench players.

Duke: The Blue Devils were aggressive from the start and yet they needed boosts from the reserves. They had their most bench points in an ACC game since February 2005 vs. Wake Forest. This was just Duke’s second game since Dec. 10, but there will be a steady diet of games for the rest of the season.

TIP-INS

Blakes took freshman Tyrese Proctor’s place in Duke’s starting lineup. . Hamilton was going for his 400th win while in charge of the Seminoles and his 600th overall. . Cleveland’s 10 rebounds gave him a double-figure total in five of the last six games. . Florida State hasn’t won at Cameron Indoor Stadium since January 2012.

UP NEXT

Florida State: Hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Duke: At North Carolina State on Wednesday.

Auriemma misses UConn’s game against Florida State

Getty Images
3 Comments

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Geno Auriemma missed No. 9 UConn’s game against Florida State on Sunday as he wasn’t feeling well after the team’s shootaround earlier in the day.

Associate head coach Chris Dailey filled in for the Hall of Famer. She’s gone 13-0 filling in for Auriemma in games he’s missed over the years.

It’s been an emotional week for the 68-year-old Auriemma. His mom passed away on Dec. 8 and the funeral was earlier this week. Marsiella Auriemma was 91 years old.

Auriemma has gone 1,156-152 in his 37 years at UConn and won 11 national championships.

Leonard Hamilton, Florida State rebuilding around ‘2-year veterans’

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Leonard Hamilton has always tried to build and win with veteran teams. This season the Florida State coach will win with a new type of veteran.

“We’re fortunate now that every one of our returning veterans, our two-year veterans, they have improved with hard work over the summer,” Hamilton said. “And to my pleasure, the incoming players that we have are farther along than I thought they would be at this stage.”

Hamilton and the Seminoles have built rosters through the years that lean on length, athleticism and depth. They have also featured a blend of seniors as well as transfers and some one-and-done stars. But the Seminoles haven’t had a situation like this, where they return just five players and all of them are beginning only their second season in Tallahassee.

Florida State’s returning five are a good foundation – productive players who are evolving into leaders. They will be complemented by a few transfers and freshmen who could help the program get back to the NCAA Tournament after falling short at 17-14 during an injury-depleted 2021-22 season.

The Seminoles return their top two scorers in guards Caleb Mills (12.7 points) and Matthew Cleveland (11.5 points). Also back is forward Cam’Ron Fletcher, who averaged 6.8 points off the bench last season, as well as center Naheem McLeod and guard Jalen Warley.

FSU also welcomes junior guard Darin Green Jr., a UCF transfer who led the team in scoring (13.3 points) and 3-pointers (87) last season. Forward Baba Miller, a 6-foot-11 forward who played for Spain’s under-18 national team over the summer, leads a freshman class that also includes center Cameron Corhen, forward De’Ante Green and guard Chandler Jackson.

Hamilton thinks his unranked team will make an impression quickly.

“When you look back even at the times we’ve won the ACC, ranked in the top 10 at the end of the season, those years we’ve never been preseason in the Top 25,” Hamilton said. “I’m expecting to have a really good year. Hopefully we’ll be a surprise team in the country.”

INJURY WATCH

Florida State lost 54 games to injury in 2021-22, with five of the Seminoles’ top nine scorers forced to watch for large chunks of the ACC schedule. One early question is Jaylen Gainey, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Brown who was the Ivy League’s defensive player of the year in 2020 and ’22. Gainey suffered a preseason injury and could be out an extensive part of the season.

NO EARLY RETIREMENT

Hamilton was hired at Florida State in 2002 and turned 74 in August. At a time where some of the biggest names in college basketball have opted to retire, notably Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (now 75) and UNC’s Roy Williams (now 72), Hamilton embraces his role as a mentor and coach.

“I’m happy where I am, my family is happy and we’re expecting bigger and better things,” said Hamilton, whose teams are 78-42 since the start of the 2016-17 season. “Don’t ask me when I’m retiring. As long as I can come out of the locker room and not accidentally go sit on the other coach’s bench because I don’t know where I’m at, I’m going to hang in there.”

FAMILIAR FACE

Green Jr. shot 6 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc in UCF’s win over Florida State on Dec. 19, 2020. The 6-foot-5 guard made 208 3-pointers in three seasons at UCF, making 38.8 shots from long range. The early impressions of Green Jr. at Florida State have been impressive: He shot 13 of 30 from 3-point range during a three-game exhibition tour in Canada this summer.

SIXTH SENSE

Florida State has won the last four ACC Sixth Man of the Year awards: Mfiondu Kabengele, Patrick Williams, Scottie Barnes and Cleveland. The 6-foot-7 Cleveland has tried to make newcomers feel more comfortable during preseason practices.

“Just making sure that everyone, the transfers and the incoming guys, that they have the information that they need to play within the system and to be comfortable,” Cleveland said.

SCHEDULE

Florida State will host preseason No. 1 North Carolina on Feb. 27 and No. 18 Virginia on Jan. 14. The Seminoles will travel to play at Duke on Dec. 31. They will also face five schools that received votes in the presason AP Top 25: Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Purdue.

ACC Commisioner Jim Phillips: Time to expand NCAA’s Big Dance

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Plenty of people have called for NCAA Tournament expansion. Count ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips among them.

Phillips said at the ACC Tipoff that “it’s time to look at” expanding the field beyond the 68 teams currently invited to the Big Dance each March.

Phillips believes the NCAA’s best tournaments are the ones that feature the most schools. That’s part of why he’s hopeful of eventual expansion, not just for the men’s event but for all NCAA championships.

Increasing the field also brings rewards for those “schools that are spending a tremendous amount of resources in sports and not having a chance to access those championships,” he said.

Currently, just 68 of 358 men’s basketball programs qualify for the men’s NCAAs – 32 conference champions and 36 at-large teams picked by the selection committee. Phillips said the logistics of staging a bigger tournament need to be worked out.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has advocated for more teams in the field the past 30 years. “I’ve been knocked down every year I’ve brought it up,” said the 77-year-old Boeheim. “I stopped bringing it up. Everybody thought I was an idiot.”

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey projects adding three more First Four pods – one for each region – could work and take the field up to 80.

“Let’s throw three more Daytons in, regionalize it up and play it out, let some more kids get in there,” Brey said.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton wants to double the field – and double the experience for athletes who work hard all year for their moment in March. “Do you realize how it would be an opportunity for all these youngsters to participate in the NCAA Tournament?” he said. “It’s the greatest games in history.”

BACOT BACK

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot could’ve easily jumped to the NBA, especially after leading the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship game last season. Instead, the 6-foot-11 senior wanted another run to finish the job.

Bacot, a likely pick for ACC preseason player of the year, was among four Tar Heels who held off going pro in the wake of their 72-69 title-game loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament in April. North Carolina was up 40-25 at halftime before the Jayhawks’ rallied.

For Bacot, it was a difficult outcome that fueled his decision to return. He doesn’t spend much time thinking about the NBA, concentrating on improving his game and helping the Tar Heels win.

“Going through last year with our ups and downs,” Bacot said. “Our ups were really high and a lot of fun. Just being able to experience that for a full year was a no-brainer.”

PERFECT YOUNG

Virginia Tech coach Mike Young led his Hokies to a surprise ACC Tournament title last March, defeating second-seeded Notre Dame in the quarterfinals, third-seeded North Carolina in the semis and top-seeded Duke, 82-67, for the school’s first-ever tournament crown.

That improved Young’s record to 6-0 in tournament finals. Young, beginning his fourth season at Virginia Tech, won all five Southern Conference championship games he reached during 16 seasons leading Wofford.

The secret? Don’t change anything. “We all know what’s at stake,” Young said. “Let’s go have a good time, lay our ears back and let it rip.”

DUKE INJURY

Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer said prize freshman Dariq Whitehead is progressing well about six weeks into recovery from a foot injury.

Whitehead is a 6-foot-7 forward from Newark, New Jersey, who was rated the country’s No. 2 prospect this past recruiting season.

Whitehead is entering the next phase of his recovery where he’s able to get out on the court more, Scheyer said. The first-year coach can’t yet say when Whitehead will be ready to play, “but he’s progressing in a great way and he’s working hard, and I know he’s anxious to be out here with these guys practicing every day.”

PASTNER TIME

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner is excited about – well, everything.

He thinks the ACC is deep and great. His players are smart and hardworking. And his school is a leader in the space industry.

“They found water on Mars from Georgia Tech,” said Pastner, bragging on 14 Tech grads who’ve been to space. “That’s what’s amazing about this school. It’s incredible.”

Pastner gushed that he thinks North Carolina should be ranked No. 1 nationally to start the season. He also would pick Virginia as the league’s best team. “I know it sounds crazy when I say this,” said Pastner, opening his seventh year with the Yellow Jackets.

Expansion: Women’s NCAA field features inaugural First Four

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 05 Women's - Charleston Southern at Florida State
Getty Images
0 Comments

Florida State coach Sue Semrau has always been a fan of adding teams to the women’s NCAA Tournament. She is thrilled it happened this season, giving her late-developing Seminoles the opportunity to be a part of history.

Florida State (17-13) is one of the schools participating in the inaugural women’s First Four after the NCAA expanded the tournament field to 68 teams, one of the few tangible changes made to address inequities highlighted last year between the men’s and women’s tournaments.

The First Four has been a staple of the men’s NCAA tourney since 2011.

“Had it been 64, I would have been extremely nervous,” Semrau said of her program’s chances of reaching its ninth consecutive tournament.

Instead, she and the other three at-large First Four participants – Missouri State, DePaul and Dayton – and four automatic qualifiers in Longwood, Mount St. Mary’s, Howard and Incarnate Word will play Wednesday and Thursday to advance into the first round.

That hasn’t always been the case for the women.

Disparities between the men’s and women’s tournaments were highlighted last year during the pandemic-altered events, leading the NCAA to make several changes. The enhancements for the women included hotel rooms, dining, training equipment and expanding the tournament field.

Semrau has worked on issues of equality in the college game for years and is gratified to see change.

“Why not?” the coach asked rhetorically about the women’s expanded field.

Unlike the men, who play all their First Four games in Dayton, Ohio, the four women’s games will be held at region sites where the winner’s first-round opponent will play.

For Florida State, that means a trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to take on Missouri State. Not that it mattered to the Seminoles, who seemed like a longshot to be even playing in the NCAAs when they 10-10 in early February. But they won seven of their last 10 to get in.

“Being one of those 68, it just means a lot to us and we know that we’re going to keep working,” Florida State guard Morgan Jones said.

It also means a lot to Longwood.

Even though the Lancers received an automatic bid after winning their first Big South Tournament, they are looking forward for the chance to make more history as one of the teams in the First Four field.

Longwood coach Rebecca Tillett said the town of Farmville, Virginia, gave the team a parade for winning the tournament.

“I can’t imagine what it would be” for an NCAA Tournament win, she chuckled during a phone interview.

Tillett has heard those who wonder if automatic qualifiers like Longwood should be part of the First Four.

“Those are good questions,” she said. “But we’re happy to be part of it against an evenly matched team.”

Incarnate Word coach Jeff Dow told his players after their First Four assignment came up on TV, “You realize we’re the first of the entire tournament?”

“They were excited about that,” Dow said.

A look at the First Four matchups:

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

Teams: Incarnate Word (13-16) vs. Howard (20-9).

Where: Columbia, South Carolina.

About Incarnate Word: After winning just five Southland Conference games in the regular season, Incarnate Word won four straight at the league tournament to win its first-ever title. Jaaucklyn Moore leads the team with 17.5 points a game and 42 steals.

About Howard : Howard won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time in 21 years. Sophomore Destiny Howell leads the Bison at 12.9 points a game. She had a career-best 25 points in the MEAC title game win.

Up Next: Winner will face overall No. 1 seed South Carolina (29-2) in the Greensboro Region

Teams: DePaul (22-10) vs. Dayton (25-5).

Where: Ames, Iowa

About DePaul: The Blue Demons finished fourth in the Big East. It’s streak of 18 straight NCAA berths ended last year and few thought the Blue Demons would get in. Now, fans can watch one of the country’s top freshmen in forward Aneesah Morrow, who leads the nation in double doubles and rebounds per game.

About Dayton: The Atlantic 10 regular-season champs have held opponents to 54.7 points a game this season and will their hands full with DePaul, whose scoring average of 88.3 points a game leads the country.

Up Next: The winner faces sixth seed Georgia (20-9) in the Greensboro Region.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Teams: Mount St. Mary’s (16-12) vs. Longwood (21-11)

Where: Raleigh, North Carolina

About Mount St. Mary’s: Won the Northeast Conference tournament crown for a second straight season. Mount St. Mary’s forward Kendall Bresee led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. She averaged 17.4 points a game this season.

About Longwood: Forward Akila Smith led the team in rebounds (7.8 per game) and blocks (93). She was also second on the Lancers with 16.8 points a game.

Up Next: Winner will face North Carolina State (29-3), the top seed of the Bridgeport Region.

Teams: Florida State (17-13) vs. Missouri State (24-7)

Where: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

About Florida State: The Seminoles strong finish included upsets over ranked opponents and NCAA teams in Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Guard Morgan Jones leads Florida State with 14.1 points and 5.7 rebounds a game.

About Missouri State: Finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference. They are led by Abi Jackson, who tops the team with 13.2 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.

Up Next: Winner faces sixth seed Ohio State (23-6) in the Spokane Region

Butler’s block seals Florida State’s OT win over No. 6 Duke

Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State let a late lead evaporate in regulation. Given another chance in overtime, the Seminoles got it done against No. 6 Duke.

RayQuan Evans made a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left in overtime, John Butler blocked Wendell Moore Jr.’s driving attempt in the lane with 2 seconds remaining, and Florida State stunned Duke 79-78 on Tuesday night.

Florida State (11-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) led by nine in the second half but ended up needing Evans’ driving layup high off the glass with 2 seconds left to send the game to overtime. The Seminoles held on for their first win over a ranked Duke team since Jan. 10, 2017, and their 14th win over an AP Top 25 team in the last four seasons.

“I thought our effort was at a level 5 tonight, offensively and defensively,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “It took a tremendous effort on our kids’ part.”

Caleb Mills had 16 of his 18 points in the second half and overtime for Florida State, which won its fourth straight game. Butler, a freshman, scored a career-high 14 points, and Naheem McLeod had season highs of nine points and seven rebounds for the Seminoles.

Paolo Banchero had 20 points and 12 rebounds, the fourth straight game the freshman has scored 20 or more, and Mark Williams had 15 points and seven rebounds for Duke (14-3, 4-2).

Duke trailed 59-50 with 6:53 remaining, but a 3-pointer by Moore kicked off a furious rally by the Blue Devils, who went ahead 67-65 on Williams’ dunk with 30 seconds to go. Banchero scored seven points during the closing stretch and assisted on two dunks by Williams. Moore finished with 13 points.

“That was just a tremendous basketball game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Two teams that just played their hearts out. I thought it was the most physical game we’ve been in.”

Butler made 5 of 8 shots from the floor and 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

Evans and Anthony Polite were quiet early, scoring two combined points in the first half for Florida State. Polite finished with nine points and five assists, while Evans had six crucial points and five assists.

A week ago, it was Evans who also drove the lane in the final seconds of regulation, drawing a foul and sinking two free-throw attempts as Florida State knocked off Miami. This time he drove again, and his shot helped secure a signature win.

“I just think in the moment I did what the team needed me to do,” Evans said.

INJURY REPORT

Duke starting guard Trevor Keels went down with what Krzyzewski said was a calf injury with 10:11 left in regulation. Keels had nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.

Florida State’s Tanor Ngom played for the first time since Nov. 24 against Boston University. Ngom took part in warmups and played the final 1:27 of the first half, pulling down a rebound. He had missed nine straight games.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Duke lost for the second time this month, both to Sunshine State teams. They were beaten at home by Miami on Jan. 8. The Blue Devils could slip a little but will likely stay in the top 10 if they beat Syracuse this weekend.

THE TAKEAWAY

Duke: The Blue Devils had 15 turnovers and were outrebounded 42-37.

Florida State: The Seminoles had nine steals, held Duke to 2 of 13 from the floor to start the second half and won their 13th straight overtime game.

UP NEXT

Duke: Hosts Syracuse on Saturday.

Florida State: Hosts North Florida on Thursday.