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Fans get to rush the court twice after top-ranked Duke defeated
By Randy Beard
and Jennifer Jefferson


Seminole fans inside and outside the Civic Center were ready to party Wednesday night after getting what they wanted - a Florida State University upset of top-ranked Duke.

With a sellout crowd of 12,100, the Civic Center was raucous from the opening tip. And with an NCAA tournament berth for FSU on the line, people streamed into the Civic Center to see the game, while others lined up outside on almost every corner, looking for tickets.

FSU fans wanted a victory, because well - this wasn't a great year for the football team.

"Basketball has the team, not the hype," student Russell Simonitis said. "Football has the hype, not the team."

It's not often fans get to rush the court twice, but it happened Wednesday at the expense of a technical foul on Florida State. In the end, it didn't matter.

Leonard Hamilton and his FSU basketball players just hope their 79-74 victory over Duke comes with bonus points when the NCAA tournament selection committee meets.

If they can finish the regular season with a win at Miami on Sunday to clinch a winning record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the theatrics will be even more meaningful for the Seminoles (18-8, 8-7 ACC).

When the students rushed the court the first time, the scoreboard clock showed there was no time remaining, but the officials restored 1.7 seconds on the clock.

All that did was allow both teams to add a pair of free throws to the final score with Duke's J.J. Redick and FSU's Al Thornton padding their scoring totals. Redick finished with a game-high 30 points, and Thornton finished with 26.

With all 4,000 student tickets accounted for, the Blue Devils received a proper Atlantic Coast Conference basketball greeting. Most of the verbal abuse in the garnet-and-gold cauldron was good-natured. Most.

It was nothing the Blue Devils hadn't heard before. It's not easy to rattle Mike Krzyzewski-coached teams. But for whatever reason, the Duke players did rattle the rim for much of the first half. With 4:40 left, the Blue Devils had made just 8 of 24 shots, allowing the Seminoles to break out to a 29-17 lead.

FSU held on to claim a 36-33 edge at halftime, but during those final minutes of the period the Blue Devils announced they had arrived. It was a back-and-forth struggle from there.

"I knew it was going to be a good game," student Jerlysha Williams said. That's why she asked her friend, Denishia Robinson, to come. They didn't sit down during the game, spending most of their time standing up, yelling and cheering with their pompoms.

For student Elizabeth Perry, who has a friend that attends Duke, the game was personal.

"For four years, we've been duking it out," she said before the win came. "We call each other every football game (and basketball game). This is the last game of my senior year, we are going to ruin them."
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