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Duke Battles Back To Take Down Florida State 84-81
Friday 03/03/2009  -  Associated Press
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Gerald Henderson scored a team-high 21 points and added 10 rebounds...

DURHAM, N.C. – Toney Douglas hit a big shot for Florida State. Gerald Henderson followed with an even bigger one, and then added another.

The final moments of this meeting of two of the Atlantic Coast Conference's top scorers lived up to the hype, with Henderson scoring nine of his 21 points in the final 2 minutes to help No. 7 Duke beat Douglas and No. 24 Florida State 84-81 on Tuesday night.

"I just knew it was a pressure situation — the game hadn't been decided and they were right there," Henderson said. "I have a lot of confidence in myself, as my teammates and my coaches have in me, and those situations, I feel like I can make something happen."

Kyle Singler scored 20 points, Jon Scheyer had 17 and Henderson added a career-high 10 rebounds for Duke (25-5, 11-4 ACC), which won its fifth straight, matched the NCAA record for most wins in a decade with 286 and moved a half-game behind No. 2 North Carolina in the league standings.

Douglas finished with 27 points for the Seminoles (22-8, 9-6), and his 3-pointer from the right wing gave Florida State a 76-74 lead with 2:25 remaining.

That's when Henderson took over.

"'G' trumped it," coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

He countered with a 3 from the right corner with 1:39 remaining to put Duke up 77-76. After the Blue Devils forced a stop on Douglas, he knocked down two free throws to make it a three-point game with 57.3 seconds left.

"Toney Douglas is a really good player — probably the best in our league," Henderson said. "He hit some really big shots."

So did Henderson.

Douglas was being bothered by two defenders as he missed a 3 with about 45 seconds remaining, and the rebound made its way to Henderson — who hustled downcourt, sidestepped one defender and drew contact from the 7-foot-1 Solomon Alabi as he hit a layup.

Henderson hit the free throw that followed to make it 82-76, then added another with 5 seconds left. That sent Duke on the way to its 16th victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. During the past two seasons, the Blue Devils' only defeats there have come against rival North Carolina.

Duke, which improved to 286-83 since the 1999-2000 season, can do no worse than share the ACC's regular-season title if they beat the Tar Heels on Sunday night in Chapel Hill.

Henderson also helped Duke's elder players walk off Coach K Court with a victory on Senior Night — something that hasn't happened since 2005.

"I'm really pleased with my teammates and what they showed on the court tonight," Douglas said. "Playing Duke on Senior Night, they're a good basketball team. We kept our composure when they made runs."

Uche Echefu matched a season high with 18 points — 14 in the first half — and added 11 rebounds while Alabi added 12 points and 11 boards for the Seminoles.

They forced only one turnover in the second half, one reason why they were denied their first consecutive victories over ranked teams since 2003-04. The Seminoles were coming off a 76-63 victory over then-No. 12 Clemson and could have used a victory at Cameron to bolster their NCAA tournament profile.

Florida State, which won its previous visit to Cameron in 2007, has a final chance to reach double figures in ACC victories for the first time since 1992-93 when the Seminoles conclude the regular season Sunday against Virginia Tech.

For a while, they lost their grip on momentum when Alabi was whistled for a technical foul for hitting Singler in the head in the aftermath of an authoritative dunk with 6½ minutes left — also a critical call because it doubled as the fourth foul on Florida State's big man, sending him temporarily to the bench. Scheyer hit the two free throws that followed to put Duke in the lead until Douglas' big shot in the final 2½ minutes.

"You can point to that if you want to. I just think we didn't do a good enough job defending them," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Now, I've got a whole lot I could say. That play was a big play. There's no doubt about that. I saw it differently. ... That was a key play during that particular time. I wish we could have avoided it, and maybe the outcome would have been a little different. But that's college basketball."

Elliot Williams added 14 points for Duke, which twice fell behind by eight points before tightening up early in the second half with a 21-9 run in which the 3s from the jump-shooting Blue Devils finally began to fall.

After missing 16 of their first 20 attempts from beyond the arc, they knocked down 3-of-4 during the run — including long-range shots from Singler and Henderson on consecutive trips downcourt, and Scheyer's from the key that put Duke up 55-52 with 11:51 left.

"We told (Singler), 'You're not going to get many layups with Alabi in there,'" Krzyzewski said.
That early cold shooting created an opportunity for the Seminoles to take charge at the start, and they led for most of the first half. They went up 28-20 lead on Deividas Dulkys' jumper from the corner and led 40-34 at the break. The Seminoles matched their largest lead on Derwin Kitchen's jumper 30 seconds into the second half.

"I thought to be down six was good at halftime, the way it was going," Krzyzewski said. "The second half, we played well the whole 20 minutes. ... A number of kids made big plays."


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