Duke takes its show on the road, storming the Miami Hurricanes 67-46

lkeeley@newsobserver.comJanuary 22, 2014 

— There was a moment in the second half of Duke’s 67-46 win at Miami when Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski looked out and saw Jabari Parker make a tough play in the paint – “manned it up” was how he described Parker’s finish. In the background, Krzyzewski saw LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, sitting courtside, going nuts, impressed by the young phenom.

It was a star-studded night inside the BankUnited Center. In addition to James and Wade, Kobe Bryant was at the other end of the floor. Duke alumni Shane Battier and Ryan Kelly were also in attendance. Kelly brought his Lakers teammate, former UNC point guard Kendall Marshall.

“It’s a fraternity,” Parker said of the NBA players in attendance. “Coach is in there. We’re glad and fortunate to be on that level where we get their support. It’s a blessing to see those superstars give support to the little guys.”

They, and the rest of the crowd, saw Parker post a career-high in rebounds (15) and, along with his 17 points, record his first double-double since Dec. 31 against Elon. In the past two games, Parker has scored 40 points (shooting 46 percent from the floor) and pulled down 22 rebounds. His three game mini-slump appears to be a thing of the past.

“You’re going to keep seeing more things from him,” Krzyzewski said of Parker. “So much is expected of him, and he’s not trained yet to do all these things or doesn’t have the experience.”

The style of play preferred by the Hurricanes (10-8, 2-4 ACC) led to more rebounding opportunities for No. 18 Duke (15-4, 4-2). Miami aimed to slow down the tempo on offense, milking the shot clock, so there was no need to worry about the Hurricanes grabbing a rebound and running out on a fast break. That allowed the Blue Devils to send more players to the offensive boards.

The result was 15 offensive rebounds for Duke (and 22 second-chance points). That equaled 44 percent of all the available rebounds at that end of the floor, an ACC-high for the Blue Devils.

The Hurricanes did dictate the tempo, limiting the game to 56 possessions, a season low for Duke. Miami ranks last out of 351 Division I teams in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted tempo, averaging 59.1 possessions per game. What that does is create long possessions, which meant Duke’s depth came in handy.

The Blue Devils continued their trend of subbing liberally, as Krzyzewski deployed several line changes, with all five players leaving the floor for five fresh bodies. That trend began three games ago, against Virginia, after Krzyzewski said he hadn’t been paying close enough attention and was letting his team wear down. The Blue Devils are not physically imposing, but their bench has helped negate this weakness – Duke is 3-0 since the change in strategy.

Eight players logged at least 10 minutes. The other two who that are part of the regular rotation, Josh Hairston and Marshall Plumlee, played eight and seven, respectively. Semi Ojeleye logged one minute late in the game.

The prime reason the Hurricanes aim to slow down the game is because they struggle to score points. Miami shot just 35.4 percent from the field, and the 46 total points were a season-low for a Duke opponent. The Blue Devils shot 42.9 percent against Miami’s match-up zone, but that provided more than enough offense.

A 14-2 run that lasted just over five minutes helped Duke pull away at the end of the first half. That, combined with a 9-2 run to start the second, put the Blue Devils up 42-21. Miami coach Jim Larranaga called two timeouts during that span. The Hurricanes never closed the gap to single digits in the final 20 minutes.

The win, Duke’s first on the road in the ACC, gave the Blue Devils their third straight win. First, there was the close, come-from-behind win against Virginia. Then there was the home blowout versus N.C. State. The convincing road win was the next stepping stone as the Blue Devils climb up the conference standings.

“Talent-wise, we’re one of the best in the country,” Quinn Cook said. “But if teams out-fight us, we’ll lose.”

This hasn’t been an issue the past three games.

Keeley: 919-829-4556; Twitter: @laurakeeley

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