Photo courtesy of Florida State athletics
Entering the 2010-11 season, Florida State had only defeated the nation’s No. 1 team twice.
In both cases, that team was Duke.
On this day 10 years ago, lightning struck a third time. The Seminoles defeated the top-ranked Blue Devils at the Donald L. Tucker Center, 66-61.
Setting the Stage
Reigning national champion Duke was 15-0 and ranked No. 1 as it arrived in Tallahassee on Jan. 12, 2011. The Blue Devils had defeated a pair of top-10 teams earlier in the season and were riding a 25-game winning streak.
After an 11-year hiatus, FSU entered the season coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. The Seminoles had beat No. 1 Duke teams in January 2002 and March 2006. FSU arrived with a record of 12-4 and 1-1 in ACC play when it recorded its biggest win of the young season.
A Strong Finish and a Strong Start
For the early parts of the contest, the teams went back and forth. Where FSU started to take control however, was late in the first half and early in the second.
Down 24-21 late in the first half, the Seminoles closed the half on a 7-0 run. After a 3-pointer from Derwin Kitchen tied the game, Bernard James added a pair of baskets.
Over the first 5-plus minutes of the second half, the FSU lead ballooned from four to 11. Kitchen scored five points and Terrance Shannon added four more as FSU opened the half on a 12-5 run to take a 40-29 lead.
Kitchen Powers FSU
Duke twice drew even in the second half, but never pulled ahead. Each time the Blue Devils seemed to make a run, Kitchen seemed to have an answer. Kitchen scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second half.
After Andre Dawkins made three free throws to tie the game at 45 with less than 12 minutes to go, Kitchen answered with a trey. Following Kyle Singler’s tying 3-pointer, Kitchen scored five straight points to ignite a 7-0 run.
Duke pulled to within one at 59-58 on Nolan Smith’s 3-pointer with two and a half minutes to play, but Kitchen responded with a jumper. When Singler’s tying attempt with a minute to play was awry, it was Kitchen who secured the rebounds.
The Blue Devils managed just three points the rest of the way as Chris Singleton, Michael Snaer and Okaro White all made clutch free throws for FSU. As the clock struck triple zeroes, Duke’s winning streak was over. For the third time in less than 10 years, a top-ranked Blue Devils’ team was unable to leave the Donald L. Tucker Center with a victory.
In addition to Kitchen’s big night, Singleton added 18 points in the win. Singler paced Duke with 20 points and eight rebounds. Smith added 19 points and six steals in the loss.
Duke would win its next four games following the loss and go on to finish second in the ACC during the regular season. The Blue Devils would ultimately win the conference tournament for the third straight year. Duke’s season would end with a loss to Arizona in the Sweet 16.
The upset over No. 1 Duke would begin a 4-game winning streak for Florida State and an 8-2 stretch over 10 games. The Seminoles would go to finish 11-5 in ACC play — its best mark since the 1992-93 season. FSU also reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1993 where it lost in overtime to Virginia Commonwealth.
Duke has come to the Donald L. Tucker Center ranked No. 1 twice more since that contest, but won both games by a combined five points. The upset remains FSU’s last win over a No. 1 team. It came on this day a decade ago.