DURHAM, N.C. — For 38 minutes, Florida State held Duke star Gerald Henderson in check. It was the other two minutes that did in the 24th-ranked Seminoles, and they were the last two in an 84-81 loss Tuesday night.
The junior sank a 3-pointer with 1:41 left to give No. 7 Duke the lead for good, 77-76, then added two free throws and a three-point play for a six-point cushion that put the game away.
The Seminoles (22-8, 9-6 ACC) came away without points on five of their final seven possessions as the Blue Devils (25-5, 11-4) set up a Sunday showdown with No.??2 North Carolina for the ACC regular-season title.
FSU hosts Virginia Tech that afternoon looking for a 10th conference victory and a possible top-four seed that would mean a first-round bye in the ACC tournament the following week in Atlanta.
"They made the big plays down the stretch when they had to make them," said FSU guard Toney Douglas, who had 27 points and seven assists. "Now we've just got to move past this."
Henderson's 3-pointer — he finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds but shot just 6-of-17 — came from the right corner and followed a Greg Zoubek offensive rebound. FSU was switching on all screens, and Henderson got free, somehow, in the right corner.
"It was just a miscommunication on our part," Douglas said. "Give him credit for making a big shot."
Douglas was involved in the other pivotal play down the stretch. After Henderson's 3-pointer put the Blue Devils in front by one, Douglas went to rebound his missed 3-pointer.
Zoubek, Duke's lumbering 7-foot-1 center, made contact with the 6-2 Douglas and dislodged the ball. No foul was whistled, the Blue Devils gained possession and seconds later Henderson was increasing FSU's deficit to three with two free throws.
"I had both hands on the ball, and he just popped it out," Douglas said. "There definitely was a lot of contact, but you just have to play through it."
FSU led by as many as eight in a first half that ended with the Seminoles up 40-34. Neither team led by more than two possessions for most of the second half. In all, there were 16 lead changes.
"This was a big game for us to win," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They're really good. They can really defend the ball with Douglas, and they can really defend the basket with (Solomon) Alabi. That's a unique combination."
Uche Echefu added 18 points and 11 rebounds for FSU.