Duke scored 20 straight points early in the second half to rally from a double-digit deficit and beat Miami 70-58 Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Four Blue Devils scored in double figures to spark an offense that scored 46 points after the break following a dismal first half.
Revisiting the three keys to the game:
- Interior Defense: Graduate student Amile Jefferson made his return tonight after missing the previous two games due to a right-foot bone bruise and provided a vital boost to Duke’s interior defense. The Blue Devils only allowed 28 points in the paint after being gashed inside recently. Freshman Marques Bolden, who had been largely relegated to the bench this season, had his best performance of the year with eight points and four rebounds and finally looked like the player Blue Devil fans expected after signing as the top-ranked center in the country.
- Knock Shots Down from the Outside: After Duke went 0-for-7 from the 3-point line on its way to scoring just 25 points in an abysmal first half, the Blue Devils stepped things up after the break. Senior Matt Jones was the catalyst, knocking down three of Duke’s five triples in the second half, and Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum each made a 3-pointer to help the Blue Devils pull away.
- Pass the Ball: Duke continued its struggles finding open teammates for baskets, only recording nine assists against the Hurricanes. In the first half, this hamstrung its offense, as the Blue Devils were repeatedly forced to toss up tough shots. The second half was a different story though, as the main reason for the lack of assists was that Duke was able to rack up so many transition baskets. This will continue to be a key area for the Blue Devils, though, as isolation basketball is unlikely to work consistently in the ACC.
Three key stats:
- Duke scores 31 points off turnovers: Defense fueled the Blue Devils' offense in their 31-4 run to start the second half, as Duke forced 12 second-half giveaways and sped the game to get the Hurricanes out of a rhythm on offense. Jefferson, Jones, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson each had more than two steals to set the tone for one of the Blue Devils' best defensive performances of the year.
- Marques Bolden plays 23 minutes: Interim head coach Jeff Capel benched top recruit Harry Giles—who played just eight minutes—and elected to leave Bolden during the game-changing run in the second half with a defensive-minded lineup. Bolden hedged aggressively on screens all night to shut down Miami's pick-and-roll, which Duke struggled to defend against Florida State and Louisville last week.
- The Hurricanes finish with zero bench points: Miami's bench was nonexistent, combining to shoot 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free-throw line in more than 36 minutes on the floor. When the Hurricanes needed to stop the bleeding in the second half, head coach Jim Larrañaga did not have any options to look to on his bench.
Three key plays:
- 17:22 remaining, second half: In arguably the most important play of Duke's season so far, Jones ripped the ball away from Miami guard Ja'Quan Newton in the backcourt and stepped into an open 3-pointer, which rattled in to trim the Hurricanes' lead to 37-32. The play swung all the momentum the Blue Devils' way and sent the Cameron Crazies into a frenzy, forcing Miami to use a timeout.
- 15:37 remaining, second half: Jackson picked up a loose ball near midcourt off an errant pass from Ebuka Izundu and fired a pass up the floor to Jones, who was open on the right wing for the second time in as many minutes. The senior captain drilled the triple to tie the game.
- 14:24 remaining, second half: With the Hurricanes still stuck on 37 points, Jackson missed a driving layup but drew the defense away from Bolden under the basket, allowing the 6-foot-11 center to clean up the miss with a putback dunk and put Duke in front 41-37. The Blue Devils wound up scoring 20 unanswered points to turn a 37-27 deficit into a 47-37 lead.
And the Duke game ball goes to.... Matt Jones
Jones may have singlehandedly turned Duke's season around Saturday, knocking down three 3-pointers in the Blue Devils' 20-0 run to take over a game that could have been the Duke's third straight loss. He energized the team with key steals on the defensive end and finished the day with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
And the Miami game ball goes to.... Davon Reed
The senior guard made four triples in the first half, taking advantage of slow close-outs by the Blue Devil defense to help Miami seize a 36-25 halftime lead, and finished with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Reed added four rebounds and three steals, but also committed four turnovers and could not make a play in the second half to stop Duke's onslaught.
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