Three days after the Blue Devils' 74-47 loss at Clemson, No. 4 Duke still found itself reeling from its worst performance in almost 20 years in the first half Saturday against Miami in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The hangover even continued into the early portion of the second half, as Duke allowed the Hurricane lead to balloon to 16 points with just more than 17 minutes remaining.
Quickly, however, the shots that didn't fall in the first half began to drop, and behind the leadership of Greg Paulus and tenacious defense and rebounding from Dave McClure, the Blue Devils took control of the game in the second half and overtime to defeat Miami 78-75.
"We've spent a lot of time over the last few days trying to get over [Clemson]," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Getting over it-you don't put it in the closet, because it'll come out at another time. You don't sweep it under the rug. It has to be cleaned up, destroyed."
Early on against the Hurricanes (15-8, 4-6 in the ACC), it was clear that the mess from Clemson had spilled over onto Cameron's floor.
Miami's 2-3 zone defense disrupted the flow of the Duke offense early and kept the Blue Devils (20-3, 7-2) from penetrating and finding open seams. Duke was forced to settle for long-range jump shots and shot only 6-for-31-a 19.4 percent clip-in the half.
"In the first half, we made it really easy for them to guard us because we just passed the ball right around the perimeter and didn't get anything inside," said guard Jon Scheyer, who led the team with 22 points. "We still shot a lot of threes in the second half, but we had a lot better movement."
After halftime, Miami turned its 32-19 lead into a 38-22 advantage. Jack McClinton's jumper gave the Hurricanes a 40-26 lead with 16:33 remaining, but Gerald Henderson, who scored only one point in the first half on 0-of-6 shooting, hit back-to-back threes to quickly get the Blue Devils back in the game.
James Dews responded for Miami with a short jumper, but over the next three minutes, Duke exploded for 14 straight points and completely erased its deficit. Paulus tied the game at 42 with a steal in the backcourt, and after Scheyer made a free throw when Miami's DeQuan Jones was charged with a flagrant foul, the junior put the Blue Devils up 46-42 with a 3-pointer to send the Cameron Crazies into a frenzy.
"How we played the last 22 minutes is more indicative of how we've played this season, but we had to do it after playing our worst you can play," Krzyzewski said. "Then all of a sudden something clicked-we changed some things defensively, tried to give them some different looks, got them out of a little bit of their tempo and turned them over a few times, which produced buckets."
Although Scheyer, Henderson, Paulus and Kyle Singler scored all of Duke's 59 points in the second half and overtime-and 76 of 78 for the game-it was McClure who came up big for the Blue Devils in other areas of the box score. Duke's scrappy senior grabbed nine rebounds in the second frame, including six on the offensive glass, to add to his career-high total of 13.
McClure was also given the assignment of guarding McClinton, who led Miami with 34 points. Although the 6-foot-1 McClinton made shots over the Blue Devil defense throughout the game, including a fadeaway 3-pointer over Singler and McClure that sent the game into overtime, McClure was able to keep the ball away from the ACC's fourth-leading scorer on numerous late possessions for the Hurricanes.
"I was trying to keep the ball out of his hands when he didn't have it, and when he did have it, we knew that he likes to drive when he starts going right and he likes to shoot when he goes left," McClure said. "Even when you know what he's going to do, he's a tough competitor."
The Miami senior, who scored the Hurricanes' last 18 points, almost single-handedly kept his team in the game after Duke gained control in the second half. Despite the effort, McClinton couldn't prevent the Blue Devils from fully destroying the Clemson residue.
"I think we put Clemson to rest, and how we go forward will be based on the foundation of heart that we showed," Krzyzewski said. "I saw some amazing things this afternoon for the making of a team that happened for our kids."
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