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Next Up - Miami

Duke heads to Florida to take on a depleted Miami team

NCAA Basketball: Miami-Florida at Duke
Jan 21, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Matthew Hurt (21) drives against Miami Hurricanes forward Anthony Walker (11) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
John McCreary-USA TODAY Sports

Duke visits Miami Monday night and at least initially it looks like two programs heading in opposite directions.

  • Date: 2/1
  • Time: 7:00
  • Venue: Watsco Center
  • Video: ESPN

Duke’s confidence is surging after two wins and a strong effort in defeat at Pitt.

And Miami appears to be in real trouble. Elijah Olaniyi, Earl Timberlake, Chris Lykes, Rodney Miller Jr. and Sam Waardenburg all went into the Wake Forest game with injuries and the ‘Canes lost Isaiah Wong to an ankle injury at the end.

In addition, Matt Cross was dismissed from the team this past weekend.

Against Wake Forest, Jim Larranaga started Wong, Deng Gak, Anthony Walker, Harlond Beverly and Kameron McGusty.

We’re not knocking any of them, but only McGusty was a starter at the beginning of the year.

The only players off the bench were Nysier Brooks, a transfer who is averaging 6.3 mpg, and Willie Herenton, a former walk-on.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Miami is in a tough spot. We don’t know if Wong is going to play or not, but they really need him.

And it’s probably not a great time to play Duke. The Blue Devils have struggled this year, but the team seems to be coming together. Getting Jalen Johnson back is huge of course and Matthew Hurt has been a rock for this team. Even better, both players have become more judicious about fouls.

Wendell Moore has also quietly returned to form and Jordan Goldwire is playing at a high level.

Duke’s freshmen guards, DJ Steward and Jeremy Roach have been up and down but are both trending up. Joey Baker is building a role as a hard-nosed defender and we all know he can shoot.

Jaemyn Brakefield is playing less than he did when Johnson was out but he certainly showed what he is capable of when he was called upon. And Henry Coleman seems to be building a role too. He’s not playing much yet but he’s becoming a good defender and can build on that. It’s also obvious that he’s a great teammate and that his teammates really like him.

And then there’s Mark Williams.

He looked early like he might be a year away but in the last two games he’s made a huge impression. He’s learning how to play college basketball and how to deal with powerful opponents. He’s also shown that he can score, rebound, block shot and, most intriguingly, that he’s not just a good passer but can make decisions very quickly.

We would never rule out an upset, certainly not in the ACC and least of all when a young team is still striving to fully establish and understand itself.

It’s just that it’s going to be very hard to do when you’re missing half your team and several starters. This is a brutal year for Miami.

However, as we have said several times this year, the Hurricanes have shown a lot of heart despite it all and deserve a lot of respect. They just keep getting up and we expect Duke will get their best effort Monday night.