Miami manhandled Duke the last time the two teams met, dominating every aspect of the game in a 90-63 victory.
“They embarrassed us in a lot of different ways other than just the floor slap,” senior guard Seth Curry said. “We just want to get back out there and play again.”
The Miami fans stormed the floor after that game, and the Blue Devils will get their chance for revenge at 6 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
That game catapulted the Hurricanes, who were then No. 25, 11 spots in the next week’s rankings. Miami went on to win its next eight games, reaching No. 2 before falling by 15 at Wake Forest.
Despite that loss, the Hurricanes, like the Blue Devils, are very much in contention for a No. 1 seed. But Duke has been a different team at home this season, where they have yet to lose and own an average win margin of more than 20 points.
And this game could mark the return of senior forward Ryan Kelly, who has been out injuring his foot Jan. 8 against Clemson.
Miami’s primary advantage will come in the paint, where the Hurricanes are able to rotate three seniors: Julian Gamble, Kenny Kadji, and Reggie Johnson. While Johnson, who was only just returning from a broken left thumb at the time, was ineffective in the teams’ last matchup, he scored 27 points and grabbed 12 boards when the Hurricanes upset Duke in overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year.
Video: Two men's basketball beat writers break down Kelly's return and the Miami game
Against Virginia Thursday, Duke struggled to effectively rebound the ball, and the Cavaliers took advantage by scoring 18 second-chance points compared to just five for the Blue Devils.
After the game, head coach Mike Krzyzewski attributed his team’s loss to their inability to handle Virginia’s physical play and a lack of production from the frontcourt.
“The four position was not played tonight by us,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Those kids have done a good job for us, but tonight they didn’t play very well. We had zero offensive rebounds from that position and that position is not blocked out.”
Against a Miami team that has three rotation players above 6-foot-10, getting better production from Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston, who have played power forward during Kelly’s absence, will be crucial.
Although it appears Kelly will be available for tonight’s tilt, to what degree is unclear.
Mason Plumlee, who disappeared during recent losses to Maryland and Virginia, will also need to regain the form that made him a National Player of the Year candidate if Duke is to have any chance at stopping the Hurricanes. Plumlee was held to 5-of-15 shooting and committed four turnovers in his first matchup with Kadji, Gamble and Johnson.
For the year, Duke is 3-3 when Plumlee shoots 40-percent or less from the field.
Plumlee struggled against Virginia as he dealt with constant double teams in the post.
Seth Curry led Duke in Thursday’s loss with 28 points, though he was 0-for-10 from the field with no points in the team’s loss to Miami. In the 10 games since that defeat, Curry has scored double-digit points in every game, averaging 19.6 points per game.
Duke will face the additional disadvantage of a quick turnaround. Following the game against Virginia, the team will have had less than 48 hours to return to Durham and recuperate. The Hurricanes, who are coming off a blowout win over Virginia Tech Wednesday, have had an additional day to rest.