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Florida State Seminoles dump Duke in ACC Top-10 showdown

By Danny Aller, The Sports Xchange

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The last time Florida State point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes faced Duke, he went tumbling down thanks to an unsportsmanlike trip from embattled Blue Devils star guard Grayson Allen.
On Tuesday night in the rematch, Rathan-Mayes got back on his feet in a big way.
The junior scored a team-high 21 points - including 18 in the second half - to propel the No. 9 Seminoles to an 88-72 victory over the No. 7 Blue Devils.
And when asked what this win meant afterward, Rathan-Mayes didn't even attempt to mince words.
"This one was personal to me. Ever since he did that, I've been waiting a long time," said Rathan-Mayes, who Allen tripped late in their 80-65 win last year -- the second of multiple tripping incidents involving Allen that led to the Duke standout being suspended and stripped of his captaincy this year.
Rathan-Mayes then added with a smile: "It was good to finally see him again. He's great player, but some of the things he's done ... it is what it is."
Winners of 12 straight games, Florida State (16-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has now tied the 1988-89 squad for the best start in school history. The Seminoles can break the record in their next game Saturday at No. 11 North Carolina.
And if you ask Duke interim coach Jeff Capel, who was filling in again Tuesday for ailing Blue Devils head coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski (back surgery), the Seminoles are going to be very hard to stop no matter who they play this year.
"I haven't seen a team this deep in a really, really long time. We just got beat by a very good basketball team," Capel said. "That team is very talented. They have depth. They have leadership. They seem like they love playing with each other. I am really impressed with this Florida State team."
Duke (14-3, 2-2) fell to 0-2 away from Cameron Indoor Stadium with losses to Virginia Tech and now Florida State. The Blue Devils, who were without star forward Amile Jefferson (foot) for this one, got a great game from leading scorer Luke Kennard with 23 points, and forward Jayson Tatum added 21 points.
But it wasn't nearly enough.
Rathan-Mayes' back-breaking alley-oop assist with just under four minutes to play to forward Jonathan Isaac gave the Seminoles a 82-66 lead, all but sealing the win and cementing Florida State's first-place spot in the ACC.
The victory was Florida State's fourth straight over a ranked opponent, and the Seminoles also won their 12th straight game at home. They haven't lost since late November, when they took their lone defeat against Temple, and Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton is very aware of the type of season his program is having.
He's just not going to gush about it.
"There is no doubt we have a tremendous amount of respect for Duke, but we try not to get philosophical about where we are because we're 4-0 in the ACC and we don't want to get what they call 'drunk on success' " Hamilton said. "What we're going to do is just stay focused and not allow ourselves to get caught up in anything other than being prepared for each game. Fortunately for us, we will enjoy this victory."
Duke still leads the all-time series 35-10, but Florida State's 10th win in a lopsided rivalry series was huge considering the Seminoles hadn't beaten the Blue Devils since 2012, that victory coming in the ACC Tournament.
Also contributing to the win was Florida State guard Dwayne Bacon and Terance Mann, who scored 13 points apiece. Isaac rounded out the Seminoles' double-figure scorers with 11 points, while Mann led the team in rebounds with seven and Bacon's double-figure scoring streak reached 26 games.
Florida State forward Jarquez Smith chipped in nine points and three blocks, and he accounted for the game-defining moment in the second half. Smith threw down a thunderous dunk on Duke forward Harry Giles, then blocked an alley-oop on the Blue Devils' next possession at the other end. The series of plays highlighted a 10-0 Seminoles run that marked the beginning of the end for Duke's chances Tuesday.
Guard Matt Jones finished with 10 points for Duke, while Allen added nine points but was hurt late in the game diving for a loose ball. Allen, who Capel said "suffered a head injury and was held out the rest of the game," was steadily booed by Florida State fans Tuesday night -- from the moment he was introduced before the game and every time he touched the ball during, including free throws.
Allen was also involved in another controversial play late in the game in which he went into the Seminoles' bench for a loose ball. Replays showed that he appeared to shove one of Florida State's assistant coaches as he fell into the chairs.
Capel was not asked about the incident after the game, but said he felt Allen was handling the added pressure well, despite the off game.
"I think it was more their defense, not what people chant or do," Capel said. "The kid has been through enough. He's brought a lot of it on himself and some of it is crazy, some of the things that has happened. The chanting is what happens with a good crowd on the road. The defense and relentless wore him down."
NOTES: Neither Duke nor Florida State has much time to rest following Tuesday's game as another Top 25 showdown looms Saturday for both schools. The Blue Devils are at No. 14 Louisville, while Florida State travels to face No. 11 North Carolina. ... Members of Florida State's coaching staff wore bright green wristbands and lapel pins Tuesday in support of Coaching for Literacy, a program designed to raise awareness about illiteracy in America and also generate financial support for effective, local literacy programs. Florida State is one of more than two dozen NCAA schools and the Washington Wizards as a partner of the Coaching for Literacy and its Assistant Coach Program ... Florida State's largest margin of victory against Duke before Tuesday was five points.
Florida State Seminoles dump Duke in ACC Top-10 showdown Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 3:27 AM Rating: 5

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