Resurgent Hurricanes swamp No. 1 Blue Devils, 90-63

lkeeley@newsobserver.comJanuary 24, 2013 

— Throughout the Mike Krzyzewski era, Duke routinely has routed teams, going on game-sealing runs so fast the opponent was left wondering how it happened.

Wednesday night, Duke was on the receiving end of one of those head-scratching runs, as the No. 1 Blue Devils lost 90-63 at No. 25 Miami.

It was the Blue Devils’ worst regular-season loss since Feb. 4, 2009, when they also lost by 27 points to then-No. 10 Clemson, 74-47. Before that, it was Jan. 18, 1984, when then-No. 12 Wake Forest won by 31 points, 97-66.

“Not much to say after that,” Krzyzewski said. “They were men, we were boys for 40 minutes, and the score and performance reflected that disparity. They were terrific, and we did not hold up our end of the bargain tonight.”

The reason for this rout was simple – Duke (16-2, 3-2 ACC) couldn’t hit shots. The Blue Devils shot a season-low 29.7 percent from the field and also set a season low for points scored. Miami (14-3, 5-0), meanwhile, set season highs for a Duke opponent by shooting 56.9 percent from the floor and scoring 90 points.

All five Miami starters shot at least 50 percent from the field. Kenny Kadji, who Duke knew would present a tough matchup for whomever played power forward, went 9-for-11 from the field and had 22 points. Durand Scott led all scorers with 25.

Duke’s most reliable starters – Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Quinn Cook – went a combined 6-for-37. Curry didn’t score at all, going 0-for-10.

“Those guys, Mason, Seth, they’re our leaders. As they go, we go, and they bring energy that just sort of energy feeds off on other guys,” reserve Alex Murphy said. “You can’t blame them or anything like that, they’re our teammates, and you’ve got to have their backs. We love those guys, but it’s tough when that happens.”

The Hurricanes used a 7-0 run midway through the first half to take their first lead. Shane Larkin swished their first 3-pointer, and he and Scott converted layups after Duke turnovers. At the 12-minute, 43-second mark, Miami led 13-9.

Plumlee found Cook on the perimeter for a 3-pointer with 10:18 left in the half to temporarily give Duke the lead at 14-13. But the Blue Devils wouldn’t hit another field goal for eight minutes – and Miami went on a 24-1 run in the interim. That ended the competitive portion of the game.

By the time Amile Jefferson tipped in a Plumlee miss with 1:45 left on the clock in the first half, Miami led 38-17.

The Hurricanes went into the half with a 42-19 lead. That’s the most points Duke had given up in a half this season, and it also was the worst scoring output for the Blue Devils.

The Hurricanes then opened the second half on a 7-0 run. Julian Gamble made a free throw, Scott turned a Plumlee turnover into two points, and Kadji and Larkin converted layups to put Miami ahead 49-19. Duke never pulled within 22 points during the final 20 minutes.

Throughout the game, the Miami fans chanted “overrated” at the Blue Devils. It started before the first tip and it continued late into the game.

Plumlee was equally blunt.

“There is a disconnect between how good we think we are and how good we actually are,” he said. “And we have to get better. That’s the bottom line.”

OBSERVATIONS

-- Duke’s loss was the third worst for a No. 1-ranked team and the worst in 45 years. ULCA beat No. 1 Houston by 32 points in 1968, and Kentucky beat No. 1 St. Johns by 41 in 1951. In those respective years, UCLA went on to win the championship, and Kentucky ended the season ranked No. 1.

-- The Duke coaches never screamed or stomped their feet on the sideline. They spent most of the game seated. Krzyzewski did get up to tell Mason to dunk to ball early in the second half and later appealed to referee Karl Hess, “We’re losing by 30 points, give us some free throws,” after contact was ignored under the basket. But mostly, they just sat and watched. There wasn’t much to say as the shots—most of them coming off of good looks—continued to miss.

-- Duke’s full-court press during much of the second half didn’t successfully cut the deficit. Even late in the game, Duke couldn’t reverse its fortunes. Kadji completed a dunk that ignited the crowd and then ran down the floor and blocked a Plumlee’s response. Trey McKinney Jones hit a 3-pointer in transition, and crowd roared as Miami took a 79-50 lead with four minutes, 30 seconds remaining.

-- After the game, Plumlee was asked about how Ryan Kelly’s absence is affecting the team (Duke is 1-2 since he hurt his right foot against Clemson.

“We can’t keep pointing to that after every game. The Georgia Tech win, we were pointing to that after the N.C. State loss, we’ve just got to move on. You’ve got to go with what you have.”

-- Krzyewski said there were no positives to take from this game. Freshman Amile Jefferson did learn something, though.

“We’ve got a bull’s-eye on our back, and if we don’t come out fighting, it’s going to be a long night,” he said.

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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