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Miami Thoroughly Thrashes Duke

Duke's loss to Miami instantly joins a list of big losses in the Krzyzewski era: Virginia, UNLV, Ohio State, Villanova, Georgetown, Clemson, West Virginia and several to UNC.

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Duke got - there's probably more elegant ways to put it but the simple truth is that Duke was seriously punked by the Hurricanes.

The back court got the worst of it. Seth Curry, Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook managed 1 for 29 collectively. We should take the opportunity to remind that Curry is playing with a serious injury. We have no idea how it affected him in this or any other game, but we feel obliged to mention it.

Mason Plumlee was 5-15.

Overall, Duke shot just under 30% and it could have been worse had they not gotten a bit better late.

On the bright side, although the first half was a thorough, epic disaster in basketball terms, there were some bright spots.

Offensively, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy all showed some stuff. Jefferson finished with 13 points on 6-11 shooting, while Murphy shot 5-8, scoring seven straight points in one stretch. All three showed more aggression than most of the more experienced players.

Defense was another story, though, although defending Miami on Wednesday night was a relative concept.

There comes a point when everything is falling and you can do some ridiculous stuff, which Miami did, and gleefully.

Duke could have defended better though. As Dick Vitale said at one point, it was "layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup.

When they weren't hitting those, Miami was hitting threes as well. About the worst thing you can say about their game was that they were mediocre from the line, hitting just 15-27.

The biggest problem Duke had, though, or at least from our perspective, was poor defense. It's one thing when you can't hit a shot; it's another all together when your guy gets by you for a layup or an alley oop.

We are reminded of a story Jay Bilas told. We'll probably get the details wrong but the basic point is, we think, intact.

As a freshman, he was told to defend someone on a drive to the basket. Over and over, he was abused. Coach K stopped practice and told him in no uncertain terms that if he didn't stop the guy he was going to pay a heavy price.

So Bilas essentially decked him. Coach K congratulated him, and practice resumed.

The point was not to hurt someone, but rather to toughen the hell up.

Ah, practice. We don't know what exactly happens from here, but we can make some educated guesses. First, we won't be at all surprised if K calls a practice the minute the plane gets in.

Second, we also won't be surprised if someone comes out of it with a broken nose, a la Grant Hill - and that could be a good thing. When Hill broke his nose, it was a cathartic practice after an unacceptable loss (or rather the manner of losing was unacceptable).

Intensity and toughness, and of course defense, are very likely to be the short-term focus. And while fans may have found the loss demoralizing, Rasheed Sulaimon did not. Check out the rookie, defiant after the epic beatdown: "It wasn't demoralizing; they played better. I believe we have them on the schedule again."

Yes they do, and we're guessing that Miami's floor slapping did not go unnoticed and won't be forgotten.

We'd like to make one final point about Miami and, by extension, the conference.

What we saw Wednesday night was a smart, tough, disciplined team.

In short, Jim Larranaga has gone where Frank Haith never could.

He has turned Miami into a beautiful team.

He basically concurred after the game, not about himself, but about the uptick in conference coaching and play. It's improved dramatically in a short period of time, not least of all at Miami.