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Big start to second half helps Duke hold off Florida State

Jan 11, 2009 - 2:16 AM TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Ticker) -- In a game where offense was almost completely non-existent in the first half, Gerald Henderson had the touch.

Henderson scored a career-high 25 points as second-ranked Duke shook off a poor first half for a 66-58 victory over Florida State on Saturday.

Managing to shoot just 5-of-20 from the field for 19 points in the opening half, the Blue Devils (14-1, 2-0 ACC) opened the second with a 24-5 run, taking control of the contest at 43-19 with 13:17 to play.

Nolan Smith had eight of his 12 second-half points during the run after being held scoreless in the opening 20 minutes. The sophomore guard had a pair of three-point plays during the burst.

Kyle Singler added seven of his 15 points during the run and Henderson scored five.

"We tried to go to a couple of things that would clear a side," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of his offensive adjustments after halftime. "We got that dunk so we brought everybody on one side of the court, and it worked. Sometimes it doesn't work."

Singler also hit a 3-pointer with 12:45 remaining as Duke took its largest lead of the game at 46-21.

Despite the big deficit, the Seminoles (13-3, 0-1) rallied, closing within 63-55 on a layup by Derwin Kitchen with 1:01 to play after a steal off a press.

Florida State's full-court pressure also got Smith to travel on the next possession for Duke, but the Seminoles missed two attempts before Toney Douglas fouled out fighting for a rebound.

Singler only split two free throws with 49 seconds left, but time quickly ran out for Florida State.

Duke uncharacteristically struggled at the free-throw line, making just six of its final 14 attempts en route to finishing 25-of-39 (64 percent) overall. It came into the contest converting 74.8 percent from the line.

Early on, the shooting struggles for the Blue Devils were prevalent, as they made just five baskets - including one on a goaltending call.

Four of those baskets came from Henderson, who ended up 9-of-14 from the field with three 3-pointers. He also grabbed five rebounds.

Overall, Duke was 43 percent (18-of-42) from the floor in failing to crack 70 points for just the second time this season.

Florida State could do no better in the first half, scoring 14 points on 7-of-24 from the field. They ended 31 percent (22-of-71) in being held under 60 points for the second time in four games - both losses.

With the team struggling from the floor, the Seminoles compounded their problems by not getting to the free-throw line much, attempting just 14 foul shots.

"We went into the game knowing that we had to execute extremely well offensively," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We knew we had to compete with them on the boards, and one of our goals was to get to the free-throw line, which allows the number of attempts we needed to have.

"I thought we competed well on the boards. Obviously, we didn't get to the free-throw line, and I think a lot of it was execution offensively. Even though the game was kind of nip-and-tuck in the first half, we never got into the kind of offensive rhythm that we planned to get into."

Douglas scored 18 points but shot just 7-of-23 for the Seminoles, who lost their ACC opener for the fourth time in the last five years.

"We just talked about needing to play together as one on both ends of the court," Douglas said. "We brought the effort defensively in the first half but had a lot of bad offensive possessions. We had open shots at times, but we didn't knock them down. We just can't afford to do that against good teams."

Kitchen added 16 points and Uche Echefu 10 for Florida State, which held a 43-34 advantage in rebounding.