As the clock wound down on Duke's 86-73 loss to Wake Forest Sunday, the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum crowd serenaded the Blue Devils with chants of "Overrated."
It was a scene Duke won't soon forget.
"It definitely does [get to you]," senior captain DeMarcus Nelson said after the defeat. "They won the game. They have a right to say what they want."
The No. 5 Blue Devils (22-2, 10-1 in the ACC) will be looking to avoid a similar reaction from the crowd in Coral Gables, Fla. tonight as they take on Miami at 9 p.m. While Duke is coming off its second loss of the season, the Hurricanes (17-7, 4-6) are riding a two-game winning streak after notching road victories over Virginia Tech Feb. 9 and Georgia Tech Feb. 17.
Junior guard Jack McClinton led Miami in those two contests, accumulating a total of 42 points and nine 3-pointers. McClinton, however, struggled in an 88-73 loss to the Blue Devils Feb. 2, recording just 10 points and going 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
But this time, Duke has more on its mind than just containing the Hurricanes' sharpshooter. After a lackluster performance against the Demon Deacons, the Blue Devils are hoping to regain their rhythm against Miami.
"We took a step back in the way we've been playing [against Wake Forest]," freshman guard Nolan Smith said. "We have to come out and respond. We have to get back to playing Duke basketball."
The Blue Devils' top priority is to play with more effort than they did Sunday. Several players, as well as head coach Mike Krzyzewski, criticized the team's energy against the Demon Deacons. Duke was outhustled and outworked, leading to deficits on the glass and in intangible categories such as chasing down loose balls.
"When we say we got outworked, they just played harder than us, they competed harder than us-that's the worst thing you can say about a team," Nelson said. "That was the case [Sunday], and we're going to have to correct that.... We have to come out after this game with that much of a fire, that much of a fight."
The Blue Devils also struggled shooting the ball against Wake Forest, both from the field and from the free-throw line. For the year, Duke has hit 47.5 percent of its field goals and 68.1 percent of its foul shots.
In Sunday's contest, those numbers fell to 40.6 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Even more shocking was the perimeter-oriented Blue Devils' troubles from beyond the arc. They shot 28.6 percent from long range, including an abysmal 3-for-20 in the second half. But the team is not about to stop shooting.
"As a team, we're going to make shots, and we're going to miss shots," Smith said. "We've got to keep shooting our bullets like Coach tells us. Our defense is going to make our offense. If we continue to pick up our defensive intensity like we should, our shots will fall."
Aside from Smith, who scored 21 points, no reserves were able to hit any of their shots against the Demon Deacons. The rest of the bench went scoreless, including an 0-for-8 performance from guard Jon Scheyer. In a game where all five starters fouled out, the bench's lack of production ended up hurting Duke down the stretch.
"We've been stressing to the bench for us to produce," Smith said. "We all need to come off the bench ready to bring the energy and emotion that the coaches are asking for and not lose a beat."
The Blue Devils will be looking for that effort tonight in Coral Gables, especially now that they have evidence of how difficult it can be to win on the road in the ACC.
"It's fun on the road," Smith said. "There are not a lot of Duke fans in there, so it's basically us against them. With us losing to Wake Forest and now we're on the road against Miami, we have to play our tails off and show that we can win on the road like we've been doing."
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