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Duke men's basketball to head to Miami for ACC road battle

It’s a new year, a new decade and a new era for Duke basketball. 

Around this time of year, it’s easy to get sentimental, but as ACC play ramps up, there is no way to look but forward.

After a stunning 88-49 blowout of Boston College, No. 2 Duke will start off the new year against a hot Miami squad Saturday at 8 p.m. in Coral Gables, Fla. Coming off of an overtime victory at Clemson, the Hurricanes will be eager to take the floor in the Watsco Center against the Blue Devils and stop them right in their tracks as the new decade kicks off.

“It’s [been] a hell of a decade,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski after the Blue Devils' win against the Eagles Tuesday. “It’s our best decade of the four decades I’ve been here because it’s been the most consistent… It’s a new age.”

A hidden gem in the last decade has been Duke’s growing rivalry with the Hurricanes (9-3, 1-1 in the ACC), who boast an even 5-5 record against the Blue Devils under current head coach Jim Larrañaga. Duke (12-1, 2-0) ran away with the teams' last matchup 87-57, and Miami will be looking for revenge on its home court.

With Krzyzewski's dynamic lineups this season, it’s hard to tell which Blue Devils will start, let alone who will have a standout game. Against Boston College, Matthew Hurt ran away with it, towering above all other players in the box score with 25 points off of 10-of-15 shooting. It seems that everyone from Tre Jones to Joey Baker will have a chance to shine this year, and this game could show a continuation of Hurt’s domination or the emergence of yet another player.

“It’s a team where everybody knows that what they do can contribute to winning and that it’s important,” said Krzyzewski. “That’s why I said from the start, it’s more of an old school team. We have depth and we have good attitude and they’re working really hard.”

On the other side of the court will be a roster with less balanced talent throughout the court. While Duke has been defined in part by its lockdown defense, especially by Jones, shutting down Miami’s backcourt may pose a challenge. The Hurricanes boast three guards currently averaging more than 15 points per game in Chris Lykes, Kameron McGusty, and Dejan Vasiljevic. Of these three perimeter options, Vasiljevic will be the greatest perimeter threat, with a menacing 46.7 percent mark on 3-pointers. 

In the paint, the Blue Devil bigs need to take advantage of their clear advantage, as Duke averages more than eight rebounds per game more than the Hurricanes. Limiting second-chance points will be crucial for the Blue Devils, because Miami's lethal backcourt has proven that it won’t need nearly as many 3-point attempts as Duke will to get results.

“We know what the atmosphere is gonna be like,” said Jones. “We know it’s an ACC road game so it’s gonna be a battle. We just gotta come ready to play.”

As sure as the years come and go, Miami is waiting eagerly for its shot at the Blue Devils. A chance to keep the rivalry alive and prevent Duke from winning in Florida will have the Hurricanes foaming at the mouth, but if the Blue Devils stick to their existing gameplan, Duke should be able to extend its winning streak to seven games.

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