What Florida State did to Duke was kind of alarming: 5 key takeaways
The Seminoles, who are Final Four good, start 4-0 in the ACC for the first time in their history
You're officially no longer allowed to ignore Florida State.
The ninth-ranked Seminoles are now 16-1 thanks to a home beatdown of No. 7 Duke. Leonard Hamilton's team was extremely impressive, winning 88-72 on Tuesday night and getting to 4-0 in ACC play for the first time in the program's history.
You like seeing Duke lose? You could get more doses of that in the near future. You like seeing Florida State, after years of teasing us with good talent, finally play beyond expectations? This could be the year.
So let's look deeper and give you an idea of who Florida State is, why this performance was inevitable for Duke, and what comes next for both.
1. Florida State, not Duke, is the story
In college basketball media, the credo is that Duke is almost always the story. Well, almost always doesn't qualify here. FSU is no-doubt-about-it a top-10 team. This could be the best team in the ACC. This win was an air horn to the rest of the conference. We think about Carolina, Louisville, Duke, Virginia, Syracuse and Notre Dame as modern, year-by-year ACC players. Now Florida State's looking as good -- and much better -- as most of that group.
I mean, a 16-1 record for the Seminoles? In basketball? Hamilton's got himself some studs. This team feels fresh, fun and ready to become one of the best stories of January in college hoops.
FSU's now won 12 straight -- a program record. Tuesday night's win was the first time in six seasons FSU beat Duke in Tallahassee. Xavier Rathan-Mayes led FSU with 21 points, while Luke Kennard had 23 in the loss for Duke.
Look at the teams FSU's taken down: Minnesota, Florida, at Virginia, Virginia Tech, and now Duke. If you're unsatisfied by Baylor getting blasted and are looking for a hot team who can come through for you, you've found 'em.
2. Duke's done this before -- and won big
The Blue Devils are now 2-2 in ACC play. If you're wondering the last time that happened, well you don't have to look that far back. It was in 2015. And what happened that year? Duke won the national title. I'm not predicting that's going to happen again, but I wouldn't be shocked.
Duke could lose 10 games this season and still be a rational pick to win it all. The team's still not fully healthy, and it doesn't even have arguably the greatest coach in college basketball history on the sidelines at the moment. Plus: Duke was an underdog! It was supposed to lose this game.
3. Blue Devils need Amile Jefferson back NOW
Or: Why Harry Giles still isn't ready.
I had a piece posted early on Tuesday about how Giles fits into what Duke does and how he's been showing progress. I stand by the piece still, even though Giles had a bad, bad night against FSU. He started, but played just 10 minutes, had three fouls and was overmatched. It was a little surprising. He looks maybe 80 percent there in terms of game shape, and I wonder if he's still not fully confident in playing without abandon in regard to his knee. But let's give that another game or two before drawing a real conclusion.
Either way, Duke needs Jefferson back ASAP. The senior big man has been a top-20 player in college hoops this year, and his presence around the rim was so badly missed on Tuesday night. Without him, Duke looks vulnerable and entirely beatable in the paint. Even Jayson Tatum, who scored 21 but 7-of-17 from the field and had four turnovers, was flustered.
Jefferson's a linchpin. He's got a bone bruise in his foot, and it's not yet known if he'll be able to go in Duke's big game Saturday at Louisville.
4. Check out likely lotto pick Jonathan Isaac
Because FSU is deep, it doesn't rely on its starters like almost any other team in the country. So Isaac played just 20 minutes, but whenever he was out there he looked tantalizing as hell. He scored 11 points, was giving Duke fits on defense, and looked so much more "in place" than Giles, for instance.
Here he is sending the soup back on Tatum. Talk about a man's rejection. These are two guys who will be top-10 picks meeting at the summit. Isaac's a terrific prospect.
Jayson Tatum, meet Jonathan Isaac. What a nasty block. pic.twitter.com/nK9HZ4pXOS— Chris Stone (@cstonehoops) January 11, 2017
5. Get ready for Florida State, good as it is, to lose
So it's a house-money situation for the Noles right now. They've managed to win 12 in a row, get atop the ACC standings and beat three ranked teams (Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke) in the process. And now ... yeah ... even more challenges up around the bend. FSU gets North Carolina on the road on Saturday. Then home to Notre Dame next Wednesday, then home to Louisville on Jan. 21. A brutal six-game stretch. FSU fans would've taken 3-3, no question. Now, that's the worst-case scenario. We've already seen enough to know this squad is flashy, deep, dangerous and right there with anyone else for best in the ACC.
As for Duke, it could be staring at 2-3 in the conference: Louisville, on the road, is next. If Jefferson isn't on the floor, Kennard, Allen and Tatum will need to have grade-A games and shooting performances to steal one there.
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