High-scoring Miami to visit No. 2 Duke
No. 2 Duke is the only ranked team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but Miami appears to be the hottest team in the league.
The teams face off Saturday night in Durham, N.C., in the Blue Devils’ sixth straight home game.
The Hurricanes (12-3, 4-0 ACC), who haven’t lost since November, will be playing their first conference road game. They have won eight straight games overall.
“We got to get right back to work,” said Miami coach Jim Larranaga, whose team finished a four-game homestand. “Everybody knows you play Duke at home and the Cameron Crazies are there. It’s going to be an entirely different environment from what we’ve been playing in for the past month.”
Duke (12-1, 2-0) had two games postponed because of COVID-19 protocols before returning to action to defeat Georgia Tech 69-57 in a defensive tussle on Tuesday.
“This is a tough time. We have to keep working at it,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Now most of our team has had (COVID), and most of our staff. We just have to start building again. It is very unusual. I have never gone through anything like this, so I’m learning as I am doing it.”
It could take time for the Blue Devils to get back to form.
“We are not close to being the team we were before the break,” Krzyzewski said.
Miami’s only other 4-0 mark in ACC play came in the 2012-13 season, when it won its first 13 conference games.
This shapes up as a contrast in styles.
Miami has scored at least 88 points in its last three games, while five consecutive Duke opponents have failed to score more than 67 points.
“Defense is really a key to our team,” Krzyzewski said.
The Blue Devils also are benefiting from strong play from reserve AJ Griffin, who provided 12 points and six rebounds against Georgia Tech. Griffin has shot 20-for-31 (64.5 percent) from the field during Duke’s five-game winning streak, to go with 10 assists and one turnover.
“I think I’m getting in better shape each game,” Griffin said. “I’m just happy to be playing.”
Griffin said the Blue Devils have been excited to be back in game action.
“Get one win and on to the next one,” he said. “It’s the same mindset. It doesn’t matter. Whatever circumstance we’re in, we just continue to keep playing hard and trying to get a win.”
It has been important for Duke to put aside distractions of the recent quarantine.
“No matter what happens, keep our eyes on the prize,” freshman forward Paolo Banchero said.
Scoring 58 points in the second half allowed the Hurricanes to erase what had been an 18-point hole in an 88-87 victory against Syracuse on Wednesday night. Charlie Moore netted a season-high 25 — keyed by six 3-pointers – to lead the way.
Miami drained six consecutive 3-point shots to start the second half.
The Hurricanes had been impacted by COVID protocols as well, but having Sam Waardenburg back this week was a boost. He missed two games, so he was in a reserve role for the first time this season.
“Him coming back, handling the ball, sharing it and screening and playing good defense was one of the major keys,” Larranaga said.
This game includes two coaches in the top 10 on the Division I active list. Krzyzewski is atop the list with 1,182, while Larranaga is ninth with 682.
–Field Level Media