Florida St.-Duke Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- Florida State ended Duke's 45-game home winning streak earlier this season before the Blue Devils returned the favor with a win in Tallahassee.
These teams meet for the third time with a spot in the ACC tournament title game on the line Saturday in Atlanta, with No. 6 Duke entering on a 10-game win streak in this event.
Duke (27-5) fell 76-73 at home to Florida State (22-9) on Jan. 21 before bouncing back with a 74-66 road win Feb. 23.
The No. 17 Seminoles are eager for another shot at one of college basketball's most storied programs.
"There won't be any secrets," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "They have a system that they use that they think is best for their team in relation to the talent that they have. We have a system that we use. I think the team that comes as close as they can to executing their system in relation to their abilities is normally the team that wins."
If there's been a vulnerability for Duke, it's a defense that allowed Florida State to shoot 54.0 percent in the first meeting. The Blue Devils, in search of a fourth straight tournament title, have shown the ability to improve as they limited the Seminoles to 39.7 percent from the field the second time around.
Duke turned in its best defensive effort of the season in Friday's quarterfinals, limiting Virginia Tech to 30.2 percent shooting in a 60-56 victory.
"You're not going to hit shots all the time," guard Austin Rivers said. "There's going to be nights when you can't make anything, there's going to be nights when you make everything. Our defense won the game tonight."
The Blue Devils played without starting forward Ryan Kelly, who is out for the tournament after he sprained his right foot Tuesday in practice. Mason Plumlee started in his place and had 12 points and 10 boards.
Duke also got a lift from Josh Hairston, who had four points and three rebounds in 17 minutes. Hairston totaled 27 minutes over his previous seven games.
"I'm really proud of him," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Sometimes when you have an injury like we do with Ryan, another kid can step up and help and that makes us better."
Florida State, seeking to advance to its second championship game, won 82-71 over Miami on Friday. Michael Snaer scored 20 points and reserve Ian Miller added 18.
"We're confident in our abilities," Snaer said. "We're playing like it. We know we need all of our pieces and we need each other to win. I can't wait to get started."
Miller totaled 14 points against Duke this season. Since the Seminoles' loss to the Blue Devils, he has emerged to average 14.8 points over his last four games.
"We know it's going to be a high, fast-paced game, it's going to have a lot of energy," Miller said. "I think it's going to come down to the team that plays the smartest and has the most poise."
The winner will face No. 4 North Carolina or North Carolina State in Sunday's championship.
Updated March 10, 2012