Lacking fire, Duke floored by Miami

Duke's comeback falls just short

jdaly@newsobserver.comFebruary 6, 2012 

— Over the past week or two, one can tell how frustrated Mike Krzyzewski is with his team by the number of times he raps his knuckles against the table during his postgame news conference.

After Miami surprised Duke 78-74 in overtime Sunday afternoon for the Blue Devils' second straight ACC loss at home, it was suggested Duke takes winning at Cameron Indoor Stadium for granted. Krzyzewski didn't disagree with the assessment, although he wondered how that could be the case since he regularly implores his team to guard against complacency.

"I'm with them all the time," Krzyzewski said. "They should listen, and they did not. That's not good."

He then paused, forcefully tapping the table five or six times.

"It's not good."

One could say that about a lot of things the Blue Devils did or did not do against the Hurricanes.

No. 7 Duke (19-4, 6-2) yawned its way through the first half, showing little fire as Miami (14-7, 5-3) built a 14-point halftime lead.

"I don't have an explanation," forward Ryan Kelly said of the slow start. "We prepared well for them, practiced hard, but we just didn't come out - we weren't emotional and didn't have the fire."

Miami's advantage peaked at 16 points early in the second half before the Blue Devils finally awoke, getting back into the game with a 16-2 run that included two 3-pointers by Seth Curry - Curry led Duke with 22 points, tying a career high - and one by Kelly.

Even then, Duke was unable to contain Miami big man Reggie Johnson, who bullied the Blue Devils inside en route to a 27-point, 12-rebound effort. Toward the end of regulation, Johnson hit a tough shot over Miles Plumlee in the lane seconds after Kelly had given Duke only its second lead of the half.

"He killed our momentum multiple times, and that's tough," said Duke freshman Austin Rivers, who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. "Every time we took the lead or made a comeback, he kept taking the momentum from us."

Even with so many negatives, the Blue Devils still had a chance to salvage a victory and a measure of pride in overtime.

After Johnson missed two free throws with 26.5 seconds remaining, Duke had the ball down one. Instead of calling timeout, freshman point guard Quinn Cook drove into the paint and put up a shot that had little chance of going in.

"They were denying Austin and Seth, and I didn't want to turn the ball over," Cook said. "So I just saw an angle, and I took a bad shot. I know we had two timeouts - I should've called a timeout. I just didn't want to turn the ball over, and I just wanted to make a play. I made a bad play and we lost the game.

"It was a terrible shot."

Duke had one final opportunity, getting the ball with 12.9 seconds remaining with Miami leading by three. Rivers missed a contested 3-point attempt from the wing, and, after getting the offensive rebound, Kelly missed a desperate attempt at the buzzer.

"I was trying to call a timeout," Krzyzewski said about Kelly's sequence. "... I was trying to get a timeout with a couple seconds to go. Obviously, the referees didn't hear me. But I was pretty demonstrative."

After the loss, Duke rued the fact it missed all six of its free-throw attempts in overtime.

"If we hit our free throws, we win the game," Rivers said.

That might be so, but it seems unlikely Krzyzewski will focus on the missed free throws when the team meets again.

Instead, he'll try to find a way to get his team to listen.

"A Duke team should play with energy for 40 minutes - or 45," Krzyzewski said. "Go outside and look at the banners. They're quite a few of them up there. They were not won without energy, without hunger, with ... complacency, with(out) people really wanting it."

Daly: 919-829-4954

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