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Miami Out-Toughs Duke 55-50

The right team won this game.

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NCAA Basketball: Duke at Miami
Feb 25, 2017; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Luke Kennard (5) reacts during the second half against the Miami Hurricanes at Watsco Center. 
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As we said in our Miami preview, the ‘Canes are currently probably the most admirable team in the ACC. They’ve faced considerable adversity lately and overcome it. Miami is playing with enormous grit and character.

Duke couldn’t match it Saturday.

Miami did a great job on Duke defensively: Jayson Tatum was 4-16. Luke Kennard shot 6-20. Matt Jones was 2-9. Harry Giles, who filled in for Grayson Allen, who sat out to let his ankle rest, was 1-4.

Only Frank Jackson had a decent day shooting - he came off the bench to hit 6-11 and 3-5 three pointers.

Duke had its chances. The Blue Devils pulled down 20 offensive boards and had a definite size advantage inside.

Duke’s defense was pretty solid too - the Blue Devils held Miami to 37.9% (Duke shot 31.8%). Duke also held four starters to 7-26 or 26.9%.

Unfortunately the fifth starter, Bruce Brown, hit 11-18 - 61.1%.

The key differential in this game was the foul line: Miami hit 10-14; Duke hit 3-9. Frank Jackson split a pair. Amile Jefferson missed a pair. Harry Giles missed a crucial pair with :38 left and Duke down 50-45. Luke Kennard drew a foul on a three point shot with :29 left and made 2-3.

More importantly though, Miami showed more composure. The Hurricanes built a 10-point lead and though Duke came back, when it came to winning time, Duke rushed shots. Duke - very surprisingly Matt Jones - let a Miami player break free on an inbounds for an uncontested basket.

Just look at the last 3:37:

  • Tatum makes a steal, misses the layup.
  • Kennard misses a three.
  • Jackson misses a three.
  • Tatum misses a three.
  • Jones misses a jumper.
  • Jackson misses a layup.
  • Giles misses a pair of free throws.
  • Jackson misses a three pointer.
  • Tatum misses a three pointer.
  • Bruce Brown gets free for a fast break layup on the inbounds with Miami up three.
  • Jones has a turnover on the inbounds. The game was over then but can’t hope to win when you perform like that.

As poorly as Duke played early, the Blue Devils still could have come back and stolen the game. But poor execution and a lack of composure made that impossible.

Duke has now lost two in a row and has fallen behind in the bid for a double bye in Brooklyn. It’s a damaging loss but not fatal: this team still has time to get it together.
Just not that much anymore.

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