When climate change experts warned of hurricanes becoming stronger and a more frequent problem, this probably isn’t what they meant. But when the Miami Hurricanes arrived at Cameron Indoor Stadium to face Duke Saturday night, they fulfilled that prophecy in a new way.
The matchup felt as chaotic as a hurricane, with constant lead changes and momentum swings. No. 2 Duke fell to Miami by a score of 76-74 Saturday night, the Blue Devils’ first loss in ACC play this season. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes extended their perfect conference record. After finishing the first half dead even, Duke fought to regain its lead after the intermission. The comeback fell short, proving that Miami is indeed a real power player in the conference this season.
"The main story will be about the last minute," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "But to me, the story of the game was our turnovers. To me, it shows the rust that we have."
Throughout the second half, the lead kept swinging like a pendulum. Miami responded to a Mark Williams slam with a dunk of its own. A pair of Wendell Moore Jr. free throws was met with an Isaiah Wong 3-pointer. Eventually, the Hurricanes pulled ahead again. With eight minutes left, Duke trailed 63-59.
No Hurricanes player torched Duke in particular, but the team’s veterans came to play. Charlie Moore and Kameron McGusty, both sixth-year seniors and highly capable perimeter shooters for Miami, challenged young Duke defenders. Charlie Moore finished with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. McGusty scored 14 points to complement him, with many coming in the second half to maintain Miami's slight advantage.
"[Charlie] Moore played great," Krzyzewski said. "I thought Moore was the key to the game. The seven steals were huge."
With two and a half minutes to play, a tip-in from junior forward Wendell Moore trimmed Duke’s deficit to just one. So close.
As the digits on the clock ticked below one minute, the Blue Devils finally found what they thought was their saving grace. Freshman Paolo Banchero converted a layup, giving Duke its first lead in a long time. Banchero then ran back on defense, intercepted a pass, and slammed home the ball on the fast break to push the score to 74-71 in Duke’s advantage.
But on the other end, Charlie Moore and McGusty returned the favor with a putback layup each to give Miami a two-point lead. Wendell Moore Jr. could not hit a pull-up wing 3-pointer on the other end, but the Hurricanes knocked the ball out of bounds with 0.7 seconds left to play.
The Blue Devils had one last chance. Freshman Trevor Keels drove toward the right elbow, but saw the lane clogged with Hurricane defenders. A stepback heave from long range bounced off the right side of the rim, and Duke's hopes were finally dashed.
"I thought we had a good shot," Krzyzewski said. "Trevor really took the ball hard and had a chance to maybe get a foul. They executed really well on the last play—we had a chance to win. But we did not."
Duke (12-2, 2-1 in the ACC) banned all food and beverages from Cameron Indoor Stadium to be consistent with the University’s policy of no indoor dining. It’s certain that fans snuck in items to munch on anyway. But during a tense first half of basketball, nobody seemed in the mood for contraband Doritos.
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No Duke player seemed fully in gear when the game tipped off. Banchero made just one field goal in the first half. Wendell Moore played somewhat better, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds in the first half. However, he also committed four turnovers, a theme for Duke in the opening period.
The Hurricanes (13-3, 5-0) took advantage of six Blue Devil turnovers in the first eight minutes to take an early lead. By the end of the half, Duke had committed 13 turnovers.
"We helped them out a lot," Wendell Moore said. "A lot of our turnovers were unforced errors—just lazy passes, dribbling the ball off our legs, dribbling into double teams… just things that we know we really can’t do."
However, Duke stormed back as it has so often done this season. Banchero nailed a wing triple to give Duke its first lead. Two other 3-pointers from Jeremy Roach and AJ Griffin helped the Blue Devils go on a 13-2 run.
The lead quickly evaporated. The Blue Devils made all eight of their free throws, but Miami converted on all five of its attempts from the charity stripe. After 20 minutes of play, the only missed free throw was by JJ Redick, who missed a free throw during halftime to miss out on $1000 being donated to the Duke Children’s Hospital.
Duke headed into halftime all tied up with Miami at 32-32.
The second half opened with much more energy from both sides. Williams rocked the rim on a dunk and made an and-one layup on the next Blue Devil possession to earn a one-point lead, but they were not able to finish regulation on top.
"I think it starts with me," said Wendell Moore, one of the very few upperclassmen on the Duke roster. "I think I could be a more vocal leader on the court."
Wendell Moore finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Banchero led Duke in scoring with 20 points. However, the duo combined for nine turnovers among the team's 17 total.
Next, the Blue Devils will head to Winston-Salem to take on a 13-3 Wake Forest squad Wednesday at 7 p.m.