by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke gets its first really big home test in ACC action tonight.
The No. 7 Blue Devils are hosting No. 13 Florida State, which has its eye on tying the Blue Devils atop the conference standings.
It's their only meeting of the regular season. FSU won their matchup in Tallahassee last season 82-75 in overtime, while the Blue Devils got revenge in a huge way with a 75-58 romp in the tournament semifinals.
If the Seminoles are the best team in the ACC they certainly have the opportunity to prove it over the weekend, as the conference schedule has them going to UNC on Monday night.
There won't be much of a crowd tonight, as most of the fans have been scared away by the big snowstorm. What they miss - at least in person since it's all on cable TV - is a 73-43 Duke romp that's never really in doubt once it gets going.
Duke completely dominates the first half.
The Blue Devils lead 7-0 and then 20-2 before the Seminoles get anything going, and are up 30-13 at the break. Duke shoots 36.4 percent over the period to FSU's 21.4 and is winning the rebound battle 26-17.
The Seminoles never get closer than 15 points back in the second half, at 30-15 on Courtney Ward's layup with 19:27 left and on an Alysha Harvin free throw to make it 53-38 at 6:21.
But Jasmine Thomas (pictured) answers with 10 of Duke's next 12 points to make it 65-41 with 4:07 to go.
Jasmine Thomas has 18 of her 23 points in the second half to lead the Blue Devils, while Allison Vernerey comes off the bench for 11 points and Krystal Thomas has a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Joy Cheek gets nine points including her 1,000th and nine rebounds.
Ward leads FSU with 11 points.
Duke shoots 40.9 percent from the floor to the visitors' 29.6, wins the rebound battle by a whopping 51-30 and commits 21 turnovers to FSU's season-high 27.
They said it ...
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: "I think our intensity, the focus, the communication, player-to-player and the physicality that was dictating the game (were keys for us). The box-outs were superb in terms of hitting people and pushing back and getting some good box-outs, and limiting a very, very good Florida State team to one shot."
FSU coach Sue Semrau: "We got handled tonight by a team that was more athletic and played harder. They got the hands on the ball and they were all over the place. We missed shots and they rebounded the ball a lot better than we did. They outrebounded us by 21 and got as many offensive rebounds as we had total rebounds."
Jasmine Thomas: "Our defense was really good here and it was aggressive the entire time. I think for the past couple of games our press wasn't doing what we wanted it do. We weren't getting steals, but today we got some turnovers and made them take some quick shots, and the press worked really well for us."
Krystal Thomas: "It's really impressive to see how Jasmine turns it on when the team needs her to. She's able to hit shots and they come in bunches. It seems once she gets that first shot she's going to get 10 more."
What does it all mean?
That the Blue Devils continue to be very good on their home court, and that FSU needs a much better start in the second half of its Triangle swing.
Stars of the game
1. J. Thomas.
2. K. Thomas.
Play of the game
Jasmine Thomas' 3-pointer with 5:15 remaining that made it 60-41.
Duke leads 30-8.
Duke: Won 3.
FSU: Lost 1.
Florida State at UNC, Monday, 7 p.m.
Duke at Boston College, Thursday, 7 p.m.