Amile Jefferson called it swagger. Mike Krzyzewski calls it confidence.
Whatever it is, Duke doesn't have it right now, as demonstrated by Miami coming into Cameron and taking Duke's lunch money Tuesday night, to the tune of 90-74.
Miami simply was better than Duke, especially in a second half that saw Duke lose its lead, its mojo and its focus.
Shooting certainly was a big part of it. It's not a good sign when your opponent shoots as well from beyond the arc as you do from the line but that's exactly what happened to Duke. Miami hit 10-20 from 3-point range, Duke 10-20 from the charity stripe.
The latter statistic was even worse; two of the misses were the first end of a one-and-one.
Jefferson cited the frustrations of watching one Miami rainbow after another go in. Freshman Omar Sherman banked one in from 25-feet out, from the top of the circle.
That one made it 69-54, with about seven minutes left, which is about the time even the most devout Duke die-hard was ready to throw in the towel.
Of course, it wasn't just 3-pointers. Miami feasted on a slew of break-outs, getting one easy lay-up after another.
Krzyzewski said this was a combination of bad Duke shooting and a loss of poise.
"We're not a very confident shooting team right now. That's part of being young. Adversity hits, it's not going too well, you start thinking too much. . . . You can't keep doing that, missing open shots. We gave them run-outs. . . . I think part of that is missing shots. It only takes a fraction of a second. When you're watching and a shot's missed and you're thinking about that shot and you're not getting back on defense. We did that."
The first half was a textbook example of back-and-forth. Neither team led by more than four points in a half that was tied eight times.
Rasheed Sulaimon gave Duke a 35-34 lead with a 3-pointer with about a minute left in the half.
Duke was up 39-36 when they hit the first of two decisive droughts. Two missed foul shots, an unforced turnover, a missed 3-pointer, a missed lay-up and two more turnovers and Miami was up 45-36.
Quinn Cook hit a 3 to make it 47-46 with 13:44 left. Angel Rodriguez answered 14 seconds later, sparking a 10-0 run that made it 57-46.
Duke never again got closer than seven points. Duke dominated inside-both Jahlil Okafor and Amile Jefferson posted double-doubles and Cook made some key baskets.
But Duke could not get stops when they needed them. Krzyzewski called Duke's defense "non-existent the last two games." Duke tried in vain to chase down Rodriguez and Manu Lecomte and paid the price; the duo scored 33 of Miami's 56 second-half points.
Duke's freshmen played like freshmen down the stretch. Okafor posted 15 points and 15 rebounds but became visibly frustrated with some non-calls and started hurrying his shots. Tyus Jones and Justice Winslow had perhaps their worst games at Duke, combining for 3-15 shooting and four turnovers.
And none of Duke's guards had much success controlling Miami's lightning-quick guards.
Rodriguez-a transfer from Kansas State-controlled much of the game, with 24 points, five assists and five steals. Rodriguez said that Duke's defense allowed them to do what they wanted and it's hard to find fault with that harsh assessment.
He certainly made a believer out of Krzyzewski.
"I thought Rodriguez was sensational. He just controlled the game. It's one of the best performances I've seen in Cameron, from an opposing player. . . . He really set the tone. He was great, not good, great."
Krzyzewski said that he's sensed that something was wrong since about Christmas, that something was missing. He didn't fault his team's effort but suggested that his freshmen may have hit the wall. We have to learn from it, make changes and try to get better.
"I haven't been able to figure it out, how to change it. We're all on the same page now, after two losses. . . . We got our butts beat tonight. In some respects, some of that is good. None of my teams have won here without losing. You just can't lose that much. The taste of losing has to be distasteful and you try to figure out to not have that taste."
Cook led Duke with 18 points. He now has 1,210 points and has hit at least one 3-pointer in his last 26 games.
Jefferson added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Duke outrebounded Miami 41-31. But Duke also committed 15 turnovers, which led to 21 Miami points.
The loss ended Duke's home winning streak at 41, the third longest in school and ACC history.
- No. 4 Duke Falls to Miami 90-74
- Box Score: Miami 90, Duke 74
- Photos: Miami 90, Duke 74
- Notes: Miami 90, Duke 74
- Quotes: Miami 90, Duke 74
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- Miami routs Duke, ends Cameron streak
- Gallery-Miami at Duke
- Miami mauls No. 4 Duke 90-74 in Devils’ second straight loss