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Next Up - Miami

Time: 9:00 || Location: Cameron || TV: ESPNU

Jan 11, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor (15) and his teammates huddle during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at PNC Arena.
Jan 11, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor (15) and his teammates huddle during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at PNC Arena.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Next up for Duke after that unpleasant visit to Raleigh is Miami trekking up to Cameron.

Last year's Miami team was severely limited offensively; this year's is much, much improved.

That starts with guards Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan, both juniors, who both transferred in from Big 12 schools (Kansas State and Texas, respectively.

Rodriguez has been a major asset at point. He really gets at it on defense and has shown an instinct for the clutch as well. He's been terrific.

McClellan hasn't been quite as impressive, but that's more because of how good Rodriguez has been from Day 1. McClellan is plenty good. He started a bit slow but is averaging 15.4 ppg and shooting .538 overall, sharply up from his .382 in his last year at Texas.

But perhaps the biggest revelation is the improvement of Tonye Jekiri.

The 7-0 junior center has turned into an outstanding rebounder. Currently averaging a hair under 10 boards per game, Jekiri has doubled his rebounding from last year and nearly doubled his scoring as well. His blocked shots are up considerably as well.

In his first two conference games, Jekiri has 27 rebounds.

He may be as improved as anyone in the ACC.

Manu Lecomte, a 5-11 guard from Brussels, has been starting but came off the bench against B.C. He's putting up 9.3 ppg but gives Miami two starters under 6-0, which might explain Jim Larranaga's move to bring him off the bench.

Omar Sherman, a big freshman from Texas (6-8 and 260), James Palmer, Ja'Quan Newton, Davon Reid and grad student transfer Joe Thomas round out the rotation.

Miami's most valuable person, though, is Larranaga. If coaching were a trade, he'd be a master coach. He's really very good.

Last year, remember, Miami lost basically everything and struggled to put points on the board in nearly every game.

By the end of the year, Miami finished over .500, winning 17 games.

It might not sound like it, but that was fairly stunning. Larranaga was essentially starting from scratch. Not many people could win 17 games in that manner.

And Miami at Duke? Well, the 'Canes have three very solid pieces in Rodriguez, McClellan and Jekiri.

The question for Miami starts, as it does for every Duke opponent this year, with Jahlil Okafor.

Can Jekiri defend him one on one? We'd tend to think probably not. It's not a question of talent, but rather that this is just his fifth year of competitive basketball. Okafor is a very, very smart basketball player. He just knows more. We're not saying Jekiri can't keep up but that it's going to be a a major challenge, and his development is not as far along as a lot of American centers.

Rodriguez will be a major challenge for Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook, whoever he ends up dealing with primarily. He's a terrific defender who really gets after people, and he's a solid point guard offensively as well.

McClellan, as we've seen a couple of times, can light up the scoreboard.

Miami's offensive options lessen after those three and Lecomte, but there's enough support from the rest to keep Miami in the game.

For Miami, there's one major problem, well other than Okafor.

Duke's had a couple of days to chew over the loss to State and is likely to come out in a really bad, aggressive mood. Duke's defense, which hasn't been that great in ACC play to date, is likely to be significantly sharper.

And as always, watch the first several sets to see what the Blue Devils focus on. It may be getting the ball inside to Okafor or it could be something else, like taking better advantage of his passing skills: Okafor hasn't had an assist since the BC game.

In general, though, expect the Devils to come after Miami with great intensity.