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On Senior Night, Duke storms 'Canes

On a night that was supposed to belong to seniors Daniel Ewing and Reggie Love, junior J.J. Redick stole the show.

Coming off two of its worst shooting performances of the season against Georgia Tech and St. John’s, Duke put Miami away early Thursday night with an offensive explosion. Led by Redick’s 18 first-half points on 5-for-6 shooting, the Blue Devils used constant defensive pressure and sharp outside shooting to build an early 17-4 lead that they would expand to 44-24 at the break. Miami (16-11, 7-9 in the ACC) had no solutions on either end of the floor and Duke (22-4, 11-4) ran away with an 83-59 victory.

“We played very well tonight,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I thought last week, playing those three games in six days, and especially with Sean [Dockery’s] injury, we just needed some time to get a little bit more fresh.”

The rest certainly appeared to help. In its last two games, Duke shot a combined 32 percent from three-point range. Against the Hurricanes, the Blue Devils shot 58 percent from behind the arc in the first half as they built their lead and finished 14-for-33 from long range.

Redick, the ACC’s leading scorer, had struggled recently as well, but he rebounded against the Hurricanes with six three-pointers to lead Duke with 29 points.

“He’s just a great shooter,” junior Lee Melchionni said. “When he plays like that teams just flock to him and pay him a lot of attention. That creates some shots for other guys.”

Although Ewing did not have a standout game in terms of points scored, his performance Senior Night was memorable nonetheless. On the Blue Devils’ opening possession, he drove hard to the basket against Miami’s Guillermo Diaz and laid the ball in, setting an aggressive tone for Duke’s offense.

Ewing also proved that he can be effective as the team’s only point guard, distributing a career-high 10 assists while only giving up one turnover against a fearsome trio of Miami guards. Along with his 14 points, the assists gave Ewing his first ever double-double as a Blue Devil.

“I’m going to call [Bobby] Hurley tonight and tell him he never did that,” Krzyzewski said of Ewing’s assist-to-turnover ratio. “We were very unselfish tonight, and for Daniel to get a double-double is really great.”

Duke moved the ball well against a myriad of defenses—Miami alternated between a box-and-one, a 2-3 zone and man-to-man—and finished with 16 assists, three above its season average.

While its offense set a torrid pace, the Blue Devils’ defense kept Miami’s backcourt trio of Diaz, Robert Hite and Anthony Harris in check the whole night. Diaz and Hite, both in the top four in the ACC in scoring, were held to a combined 13 points in the first half as Duke built its lead. Harris, the Hurricanes’ point guard, had five assists but was also forced into 6 turnovers. Normally a team that shoots 35 percent from three-point range, Miami was held to 25 percent by Duke’s defense.

“We really have defended the three well and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they know they have backing,” Krzyzewski said. “This has been the best shot-blocking team that I’ve ever coached.”

Melchionni and Shavlik Randolph were particularly impressive on defense. Melchionni was often assigned the task of defending one of Miami’s smaller and quicker guards but held his own and snatched two steals. Randolph grabbed nine rebounds, blocked two shots and drew several charges

NOTES:

Ewing is now 110-21 as a Blue Devil and 56-2 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.... With two three-point baskets, Ewing (201) became the eighth player in Duke history to make 200+ three-pointers in a career.... Redick reached double figures for the 25th time this season and his six three pointers increased his ACC-leading total to 99.... Melchionni is 14-for-26 from behind the arc in the last four games.... Williams now has 96 blocks on the season and needs 16 more to break his own record (111 in 2003-2004).

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