TALLAHASSEE — After a crushing 80-78 loss Saturday to No. 1 Duke on a last-second shot, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton didn’t want to get caught up in moral victories.
“Coming close just doesn’t count,” he said. “Maybe it does in horseshoes but not in basketball. … We don’t want to take any moral victories away. We had a chance, and we got beat by a team that played a little better than we did.”
Enter Duke’s Cam Reddish, who has struggled for more than a month, searching for some consistency with his shot.
With fellow freshman Zion Williamson on the bench in the second half due to double vision after getting poked in the eye, Reddish made all the shots, including the winning 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to rally the Blue Devils in the sold-out Tucker Center.
Reddish caught the ball on the wing off the inbounds pass and made a wide-open 3 to give Duke (14-1, 3-0 ACC) its ninth straight win. Two freshmen carried the load for the Blue Devils as RJ Barrett scored 32 and Reddish had 23.
“It was great,” said Reddish, who hadn’t scored more than 10 points in Duke’s past six games but scored 16 in the second half alone. “I was working really hard to get back to who I was. Trusting God. Praying every day to be who I was. … My coaches and teammates have helped me with my confidence.”
Duke was on the ropes in the back-and-forth game — over the final 10 minutes the lead changed hands 11 times with five ties — especially playing the second half without Williamson. He was poked in the eye late in the first half and didn’t return, finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t sure what to expect from his Blue Devils, who were without one of their top players and facing a top-15 team on the road.
“They rose,” he said of Barrett and Reddish. “They rose to the different occasion. An occasion that we hadn’t been in this year.”
Duke has had very few close games this season, winning 13 of 14 by 10 points or more.
The Seminoles (13-3, 1-2) were trying to go 3-0 all time in Tallahassee against a No. 1-ranked Duke team, the other wins coming in 2011 and 2006.
P.J. Savoy made a pair of free throws with 15.8 seconds left, just seconds after forcing a turnover, to put FSU up 78-76. Barrett, who had 19 second-half points, then hit the first of two free throws with five seconds left. He missed the second, but the Blue Devils retained possession with 2.8 seconds left after a review overruled a call that the ball had gone out of bounds off a Duke player, setting up Reddish’s shot.
Mfiondu Kabengele came off the bench for his third career double double, tying a career-high with 24 points and 10 rebounds for FSU (13-3, 1-2). Phil Cofer made five 3s and had a season-high 21 points.
“Duke is the kind of team that can win it all,” Hamilton said. “They have all of the ingredients. And they are going to continue to get better. That’s a scary thought.”
The Seminoles remained poised down the stretch, responding to a 10-0 Duke run in the second half, taking a late lead and overall making things difficult for the Blue Devils, with the exception of the final shot.
“It hurt all of us, just because we were there the whole time,” Cofer said about the loss. “It happened, we miscommunicated on defense and we have to move on.”