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'It really is sad': Duke men's basketball's version of Jekyll and Hyde on full display in loss to Miami

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team "didn't play hard" Monday night against Miami.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team "didn't play hard" Monday night against Miami.

Much like the infamous conundrum of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Blue Devils have been far from steady this season, and that fact was on full display in the Watsco Center Monday night

For stretches against Miami—especially when Duke went on a 10-2 spurt to end the opening half—the Blue Devils looked like the team that blew out Clemson Saturday. Similarly to that Jekyllian showing against the Tigers, Duke was getting out in transition and whipping the ball around offensively as it stormed back to take a 35-33 edge into the locker room.

At the end of the day, though, the other 36 minutes were just too much of the disastrous Mr. Hyde, as a lack of energy held Duke back from ever fully capturing the momentum in a back-and-forth affair. The Blue Devils simply failed to bring their lunch pail and get to work, something that was not lost on head coach Mike Krzyzewski in the aftermath of the defeat.  

“The last two games we won and we were deserving to win," Krzyzewski said. "We were not tonight."

Bad habits reared their ugly head on both ends of the floor, producing a final stat line that reads like a post-mortem report. Duke turned the ball over 13 times and only assisted on eight baskets, a far cry from Saturday’s 20-9 assist-to-turnover ratio. After holding Clemson to just 23.8% shooting from distance, the Blue Devils’ substandard closeouts and late rotations gave Miami clean looks from beyond the arc all evening long, and the Hurricanes pounced on those opportunities by connecting on 53.8% of their 3-point attempts Monday. 

The number of open triples for Miami was particularly jarring. Thanks to some stellar perimeter defense by the likes of Jordan Goldwire and Wendell Moore Jr., the Blue Devils harassed Clemson’s guards Saturday. Against the Hurricanes, however, the story on the defensive side was a total contrast.

“The shots they did hit, they were pretty open,” Moore said. “That goes from us not rotating and also goes from our communication on defense, which all refers back to the energy that we showed at the beginning of the game.”

Based on what was said in the postgame press conference, the wheels were in motion for this type of showing in the lead-up to the contest. Thanks to the often fatal combination of overconfidence and an undermanned opponent that fights like tooth and nail, the Blue Devils could not correct their lackadaisical energy once the ball tipped off. 

“We saw it yesterday,” Krzyzewski said regarding Duke’s sluggish effort. “You take care of it yesterday, you don’t take care of it during a ballgame.” 

The Blue Devils seemingly had little motivation in being on the floor Monday, despite the fact that even a satisfactory performance would have likely resulted in a victory against a Miami group that is dealing with a devastating dearth of injuries. 

On Duke’s part, the lax attitude on display was a far cry from what we saw just over 48 hours ago, and it’s truly a head-scratcher when you think about the fact that for many in and around the sport, the shellacking of Clemson represented a turning point for the Blue Devils. 

“We have to really play hard to win...but we didn’t play hard tonight,” Krzyzewski said. “It really is sad, coming off those two games.” 

The rollercoaster ride even applied to the individual outings of a few Blue Devils. Jalen Johnson, for one, scored just a single bucket in the first half before adding 11 points in the second period. DJ Steward, on the other hand, went 3-for-5 from the field in the first half but struggled in the second, shooting 2-for-8. 

With everything on the line—being in the midst of a battle to make the NCAA tournament and a chance to tune up for a date with North Carolina later this week—the Blue Devils could not afford to come out with the sort of disinterested mindset that hampered them in South Florida. Yet again, the old story of Jekyll and Hyde comes to mind, as Duke followed up its most impressive win of the season with a loss that will sting for a long time. 


Max Rego

Max Rego is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor for The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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