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Miami Socks Duke In The Mouth

Critical loss for the Blue Devils

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Miami-Florida
Feb 1, 2021; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Isaiah Wong (2) blocks the shot of Duke Blue Devils forward Jalen Johnson (1) during the second half at Watsco Center. 
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Duke’s road woes continued Monday night as the Blue Devils dropped a 77-75 game to an undermanned but game Miami team, a Miami team that dominated the first 15 and final 15 minutes of the game in delivering a huge setback to Duke’s nascent revival.

Miami used an 8-0 run in the middle of the second half to take a 57-51 lead and nursed it down the stretch with key free throws to hold on for the upset.

Duke wasn’t especially good in any particular area and reverted to some bad habits on offense. Duke had only eight assists and only got to the foul line 13 times, albeit making 12. But Duke still scored enough points to win, especially against a Miami team that has struggled to put points on the board. But Miami consistently got the ball inside off the dribble and knocked down 7 of 13 from beyond the arc, a stunning 53.8 percent for a team that came into the game shooting 28 percent on 3-pointers.

“They hit some big shots,” Wendell Moore II said, “but at the same time the shots they did hit, they were pretty open. That comes from us not rotating and also our communication defense at the beginning. If we had come out more energetic at the beginning . . . we wouldn’t have been in that position.”

Ah, the beginning.

It wasn’t an absolute disaster. But the number one rule of beating an underdog is not to let them hang around.

Duke let them hang around.

Jalen Johnson had two turnovers, a foul on a Miami three-point play and was stuffed on a lay-up, all in the first two minutes, setting an ominous tone.

Mike Krzyzewski said he could see it coming but couldn’t do anything to stop it.

“We did not play well. . . . I didn’t think we competed. I thought we were soft. I saw it in practice yesterday and tried to take steps to change that. We were not able to change it. I’m really disappointed in our team. They did not play like a Duke basketball team tonight and obviously I’m responsible for that.”

Duke did lead early but never by very much. Miami went on a 7-0 run to take a 23-17 lead, the first of several six-point leads in the first half. It was pretty much a layup drill, interspersed with some wide-open 3s.

Duke went to a zone and it seemed to help. Duke closed the first half on a 10-2 run to take a tenuous 35-33 lead into the locker room.

Duke extended the lead to 39-33 and seemed poised to put away a game that many expected to be a blow-out.

But Duke didn’t have the necessary killer instinct.

What was Duke able to do well during that 14-2 run and why couldn’t they maintain it?

Moore said it had nothing to do with Xs and Os and more to do with intangibles.

“I think during that stretch the energy finally came back. We started getting after it defensively. We got a couple of steals, we got a couple of easy baskets in transition. At the same time we didn’t get the stops we needed at the other end, so we were going score for score.”

After that six-point deficit Miami hit three of their next four shots to tie it at 39-39. Every time Duke needed a stop down the stretch, Miami came away with points.

The zone “petered out in the second half,” Krzyzewski said, “because we weren’t playing it with the aggressiveness that you need to play. . . . They just executed their stuff better. . . . [Isaih] Wong and [Kameron] McGusty are two of the better players in the league. They beat whatever we were trying to do. A couple of times where you get a one-possession lead, if you are really fighting, you get a stop. We did not get stops.”

Miami took a 69-63 lead on an Elijah Olaniyi 3-pointer with 3:54 left. Duke fought back to within two points on three separate occasions and had a chance to win at the buzzer after Miami missed the first end of a one-and-one. But it was a hasty, transition three by Matt Hurt that didn’t come close.

Krzyzewski made no attempt to hide his concerns.

“I told them, ‘if you come down to Miami to play, you will lose. If you come down to Miami to compete, we will win’. . . . A single game is the most selfish thing in our game. It is selfish because it does not care about what you did in the previous game. It does not care what you’re going to do in a future game. If you do not come completely immersed in it, it will not reward you.”


Hurt led Duke with 21 points, but also had a season-low 3 rebounds. He was joined in double figures by Moore (18 points), D.J. Steward (14) and Johnson (13). Moore led Duke with 3 assists, while Johnson had 4 turnovers. Mark Williams had 4 blocks.

Olaniyi matched Hurt’s 21 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Wong and Anthony Walker had 16 points for the Hurricanes, who edged Duke 33-32 on the boards.

The loss drops Duke to 5-4 in the ACC, 7-6 overall and reduces Duke’s post-season margin-of-error to a razor-thin territory.

Miami goes to 3-9 ACC, 7-10 overall.

North Carolina next, Saturday at 6 P.M.


Player Of The Game vs. Miami

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Jalen Johnson
    (1 vote)
  • 40%
    Wendell Moore
    (74 votes)
  • 23%
    Matthew Hurt
    (44 votes)
  • 1%
    DJ Steward
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (5 votes)
  • 9%
    Joey Baker
    (17 votes)
  • 18%
    Mark Williams
    (35 votes)
  • 3%
    Jeremy Roach
    (6 votes)
185 votes total Vote Now