The truth hurts, claims pop star Lizzo in her eponymous smash hit song. And the truth is, however out of sorts No. 8 Duke may have looked in the past week, Miami never had a shot against the Blue Devils Tuesday night.
The truth also Hurts. As in, dynamite freshman forward Matthew Hurt, who dazzled the home crowd with a Larry Bird-esque shooting display, a welcome occurrence for a team that had just suffered two straight conference losses. Spurred in large part by Hurt's otherworldly performance, Duke cruised past the Hurricanes 89-59 in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"It took a little bit to get my shot off," Hurt said. "But once I’ve got my groove, every shot I shoot, I think is going in."
Before the matchup against Miami, it had been a bad, bad week for Duke. A road loss to Clemson and a home loss to Louisville moved the Blue Devils (16-3, 6-2 in the ACC) down five spots in the AP poll. Freshman Wendell Moore Jr. had not played in either game—he sat out while recovering from a broken bone in his hand.
"We had a heck of a day yesterday with our team, from [7 a.m. until 10 p.m.] with a couple of practices, meetings… just good stuff," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I think we grew a lot as a team yesterday, and it showed today."
One Duke freshman seemed to have grown more than the rest. Hurt finished the night with 22 points, six rebounds and three blocks. His domination was ubiquitous and breathtakingly efficient—Hurt played only 24 minutes, fourth-most on the team.
Hurt impressed on both ends of the floor with equal vigor and success. The 6-foot-9 freshman greeted the scoreboard with back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game. Later in the half, Hurt finished an and-one layup with ease. When Miami point guard Chris Lykes elevated for a second-half layup, Hurt rose with him to rip the ball away before the ball had left Lykes' hands.
Admittedly, Lykes stands at just 5-foot-7, a fact his talent could not overcome throughout the game.
Frankly, the Hurricanes (10-8, 2-6) were the weather phenomenon of least concern for Duke fans. With temperatures dipping below 30 degrees, the Floridians couldn't fight the frost. Their shooting, at least, looked ice cold. The Blue Devils held Miami to just a 30 percent clip from the field.
"[Miami] is beat up. They’ve got kids playing hurt," Krzyzewski said. "I feel bad for them. We feel good that we won the two games, but we hope they get healthy and can turn it around."
Meanwhile, Duke toasted Miami on the offensive end. The Blue Devils shot 53.1 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc.
"It was open," Krzyzewski said, before reversing course. "I think it’s fool’s gold to emphasize [3-pointers]. For us, that would not be a good point of emphasis."
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Tre Jones and Vernon Carey Jr. again played major roles in Duke's offense. Although Jones suffered another slow start, the star point guard finished with 16 points, six assists and six rebounds. Carey registered 11 points while bringing down six boards.
All of the Blue Devils looked to have the jump on Miami early Tuesday night. Even against Miami's weak frontcourt, the Blue Devils hardly had to look inside for their scoring. Duke rocketed ahead to an early lead, hitting four of its first six long-range attempts.
Of Duke's 33 field goal attempts in the first half, 17 of them came from beyond the arc. Nine of them fell, a remarkable 52.9 percent rate.
Hurt stole the show early and late. The freshman forward couldn't miss in the first half. He shot 5-for-7 in the opening period, including 3-for-5 from deep, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds and a block.
"We all love Matt," sophomore forward Joey Baker said. "We know how good he is, playing like that and bringing energy. It just picks everybody else up, and everybody follows that lead."
Whatever competitive moments Tuesday's game might have had, it could hardly have been called a contest. The truth Hurts, and Matthew needs something more exciting.
Duke has a full week for recovery before its next matchup, a Jan. 28 home soiree against Pittsburgh.