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Miami Takes Duke Out, 96-95

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If this game were a fish, you might be tempted to throw it back. With the exception of the comeback at the end, Duke was totally outplayed by Miami, and the Hurricanes deserved the win.

To be blunt, for most of the game, Duke was simply awful. It wasn't just that they missed shots. It was that they threw the ball away, over and over again, in really foolish ways. The ball was stripped from behind several times. Players dribbled into the Miami defense with nowhere to go and lost the ball.

And for most of the first half, Duke just couldn't get anything going. For the second game, the three point threat was mostly absent.

Miami's Dwayne Collins just filleted Duke, going 12-14 for 26 points. Jack McClinton hit for 22.

And yet Duke came so close to snatching it away at the end, with a steely rally that managed to put the earlier disaster behind them. They gave Miami a good scare, but ultimately fell short.

As far as there was good news for Duke, this is it:

The comeback itself, of course, because they showed some significant heart at the end.

In the first half, Brian Zoubek had his best moments at Duke, without question. He came to Duke with a lot of work to do, and his injuries have held him back. The first half of the Miami game was the first time he's looked not just like a 7-2 guy who plays ball, but like a real basketball player. He's a guy who really works hard, a lot harder than most people realize, so it's great to see him improving.

And Lance Thomas, who also works hard and runs his butt off during a game, hit double figures with 10, which was also nice to see.

Duke's biggest problems in this game were ball control and defense, but there were some serious offensive problems, too. They never really figured out Miami's zone and while Coach K encouraged them to drive, too often they drove and made bad decisions.

This team can win without being hot from behind the three point line, but not if you have 22 turnovers and can't stop the other guys.

Then there's also the recent war of words between Coach K and Roy Williams over how teams deal with injuries. In Duke's case, at least Gerald Henderson and Nolan Smith are getting over injuries, and Henderson's is really taking a toll.

Since he sprained his wrist, Henderson has been a non-factor offensively, and Duke is missing his mid-range game terribly, not to mention his imposing defensive presence around the basket. And Smith has been erratic since hyperextending his knee, which is too bad because he was starting to hit his stride.

Things will slow down a bit, with a non-conference home game with St. John's this weekend and then a home game against Georgia Tech next week. We're not saying either game is a gimme, but Duke will be home, will be getting rest and working on what's not gone well lately.

On the bright side, Duke is still 22-3, still wins the tiebreak for first in the ACC, and still has a lot of basketball to look forward to. So do the rest of us.