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Beyond the arc: Duke men’s basketball moves past struggles with dominant win against Miami

Joey Baker led Duke's bench with nine points against Miami
Joey Baker led Duke's bench with nine points against Miami

The Blue Devils were able to put consecutive losses behind them, thrashing the visiting Miami Hurricanes 89-59. Duke led from wire to wire, moving the ball effectively against the multiple defenses that Miami utilized and locking down the Hurricanes’ high ball screen action on the other end. The Blue Zone is here to give you three overall takeaways, three key stats and a look ahead to the future for Duke:

Three key takeaways:

Start your engines

If one was to play the blame game after the Blue Devils suffered back-to-back defeats, it might be easy to look at slow starts. Against both Clemson and Louisville, Duke found itself behind the eight ball seemingly from the jump, resulting in comeback efforts that ultimately fell just short. 

That was not to be the case on Tuesday, as Duke got out to an eight-point lead by the first TV timeout. With stout defense, constant ball movement and efficient shooting, the Blue Devils racked up 28 points by the time Miami got into double digits in the scoring column. A 48-24 halftime lead meant Duke could focus on execution without fretting about the end result over the final 20 minutes.

Hurts so good

With a start akin to a thoroughbred horse steamrolling out of the gate, Matthew Hurt lit it up from distance early on, racking up the first six points of the contest. From there, it was an impressive display of marksmanship from the outside and toughness on the inside for the freshman from Minnesota. With 22 points by game’s end, Hurt once again gave the Duke offense a jolt of electricity by luring Miami’s big men out of the paint and opening up driving lanes. 

With four 3-pointers Tuesday night to go along with multiple slashes to the rim, Hurt showcased his unique ability to present matchup nightmares for the opposition. Just against the Hurricanes alone, Hurt has averaged 17.5 points per game on 63 percent shooting from deep. With Miami rolling out a soft 2-3 zone, Hurt’s prowess as a scorer from multiple spots on the floor kept the Hurricanes off balance for the entire contest.

Where was Lykes?

For the second time in eighteen days, Miami’s dynamic point guard Chris Lykes was hounded by the tandem of Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire. The Hurricane offense is heavily predicated upon top of the key ball screen action, and with a taller defender on his hip every time he came around a screen, Lykes had no room to operate. 

Without the proper airspace to utilize his mid-range pull up, the junior was unable to find a rhythm, finishing the night with only nine points on 23 percent from the floor. Those around him could not bail out their struggling floor general, as time and time again, kickouts by Lykes resulted in hopeless attempts from the outside. Credit to Jones and Goldwire for making life for Lykes miserable once again.

Three key stats:

44.0%, 76.9%

Separating these two figures seemed illogical, considering that they represent two things that cost the Blue Devils dearly in Saturday’s home loss to No. 6 Louisville: 3-point shooting and free throw shooting. With a significant uptick from behind the arc, and a slight improvement at the charity stripe, the Blue Devils maximized their opportunities offensively. If Duke is to embark upon deep ACC and NCAA tournament runs, it must display improved consistency from both spots.

27 points

With energy and toughness off the bench, the Blue Devils were able to put away the Hurricanes early on. Duke's second unit scored 27 points in the contest, led by a trifecta of triples by the always-ready Joey Baker. That bench production proved to be crucial toward the Blue Devils righting the ship Tuesday. As a result of the bench mob’s effectiveness, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was able to give his freshman big men some needed rest for certain stretches of the contest.

12 more assists

The contrast between both teams’ offensive strategies was stark throughout the matchup, as Miami’s reliance on dribble drives and iso ball resulted in just six assists. On the other hand, Duke racked up 18 assists on the night, as sound ball movement and constant motion led to the leather never sticking in one player’s hands for too long. 

The Blue Devils were able to play inside-out basketball that resulted in wide open looks from all over the floor. Miami struggled to get even decent looks from the perimeter and meaningful paint touches, while Duke appeared to be a well-oiled machine offensively. 

Looking forward:

The Blue Devils now have a week to prepare for old friend Jeff Capel and the Pittsburgh Panthers, who will come to Cameron Indoor Stadium having played two games in the same time span that Duke will have played zero games. Pittsburgh is a rebuilding yet improving club that will give the Blue Devils everything it has in an effort to show the country that the direction of the program is on the upswing.

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