If there are silver linings in Duke’s loss to Virginia, they are as follows:
The Blue Devils don’t have time to dwell on it.
And that could be the last time they have to play without Ryan Kelly. Kelly participated in pregame shooting warm-ups at Virginia, and he has not been ruled out for Saturday’s game against No. 5 Miami.
After landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport around 1 a.m. Friday morning, Duke had about 36 hours to prepare for the rematch against the Hurricanes, who have already clinched a share of the ACC regular season title.
“When you have a bad game and you lose, you want to get back on the court as quick as possible and be better,” Seth Curry said of the short time between games. “That’s why I like this game. Quick turnaround, not having to wait a long time and just dwell on this loss. We get a chance to go back out there and compete again.”
The No. 3 Blue Devils (24-4, 11-4 in the ACC) were not competitive Jan. 23rd in Coral Gables, as Miami blew Duke out 90-63, a 27-point margin. Duke hasn’t suffered a worse regular-season loss since 1984.
“Let’s face it, they were humiliated,” ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said of the first Miami game. “I’ve been doing Duke games for 34 years. I have never, ever seen them humiliated the way they were that night against Miami.”
Trailing 42-19 at the half, Duke gave up a 7-0 run to start the second, officially ending any hope of a comeback. The Hurricanes (23-4, 14-1) turned the second half into a dunk contest, throwing the ball down six different times as Duke gave varying amounts of effort in chasing them down.
None of the slams, though, stung quite like the Hurricanes slapping the floor on defense, mocking an old Duke tradition.
A few days after the loss, several of the Blue Devils said they felt disrespected by the act.
“That was just a slap in the face to the program,” Quinn Cook said Jan 26. “All the tradition that Coach has built here, just for them to mock that, it was definitely disrespectful. We definitely took that to heart.”
As much as the national media wanted to skip straight to the Duke-Miami rematch this week – ESPN began running commercials for the game several days ago – Duke first had to travel to third-place Virginia. And when that trip turned sour with a 73-68 loss during which Joe Harris scored a career-high 36 points, none of the Blue Devils were eager to talk about Miami in the locker room at Charlottesville.
“They embarrassed us in a lot of different ways other than just the floor slap,” Curry said of the Hurricanes. “We just want to get back out there and play again and get a win. “
Traditionally, Duke rebounds well after losses. Since the 2009-10 season, the Blue Devils are 17-1 after a loss, with the lone exception coming in last year’s postseason play.
“The one thing about Mike Krzyzewski, and that’s why he is a Hall of Famer and Olympic winner, one of the greats in coaching, is that he does an amazing job of getting kids to focus in the moment,” Vitale said. “Over the years, they have been very successful after losses because he does a phenomenal job of taking a loss, addressing it and then putting it away, letting them know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and then building for the next moment.”
In order for the Blue Devils to be successful against the Hurricanes, they will need better than a 1-of-22 shooting performance from Cook and Curry. Kelly’s return would help stretch the floor, opening more shooting lanes and limiting traffic around Mason Plumlee in the post. Even without Kelly, though, Duke will need to do one thing they didn’t do at all once the game got tough last time: fight.
Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley