CORAL GABLES, Fla.—Miami is known for many things. Beaches, nightlife and perfect weather, among others, make the list.
Road wins for Duke, at least on this night? Not quite.
Just two days after an emotional, gutsy win against North Carolina, the Blue Devils were taken to school at White Out at the Watsco Center, falling to No. 19 Miami 81-59. Duke shot just 41% from the floor, and four Hurricanes scoring in double figures resulted in the Blue Devils’ road record on the season dropping to 2-5.
"It wasn't the same level of competing, and [wasn't] the same look," head coach Jon Scheyer said after the game. "And so, that's on me, that's on our guys, on our team, and it's disappointing. Not okay with it, not taking any credit away from them, they won, they beat us. No excuses."
Coming out of the halftime locker room, the Hurricanes led 40-26 and were firmly in control. They proved to be intent on maintaining control, as a quick 9-0 spurt—highlighted by a triple from Wooga Poplar and an off-balance jumper from Nijel Pack—made it a 23-point Miami lead. From there, it was window dressing, as Duke (17-7, 8-5 in the ACC) just could not get into a rhythm offensively.
Scheyer threw the kitchen sink to try and claw back into the contest, but nothing was working. Not a full-court press with Dereck Lively II as the first line of defense. Not a lineup featuring Lively and backup center Ryan Young. Not even a look at freshman guard Jaden Schutt, who received 11 minutes of playing time by the end of the contest.
"We were just trying to get five guys out there that were clicking," Scheyer said. "We didn't have that and we weren't competing together. So you're looking for whoever that is, whether it's two bigs together, we looked at three guards at one point. And obviously you're hoping something [will] stick at that time."
Ultimately, 21 turnovers and 16 Hurricane offensive boards did the Blue Devils in, as Miami (19-5, 10-4) capitalized to the tune of 17 fastbreak points and 24 second-chance points. With the seven-minute mark of the second half approaching, a steal by Pack and dish to forward Norchad Omier—whose ensuing slam made it 68-43, and brought the house down in Coral Gables—punctuated the win for the Hurricanes.
"Lack of focus," sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes said on the reason behind the turnover troubles. "Obviously, it's hard to defend when you give them live-ball turnovers, so it's just lack of focus."
Just 48 hours ago, Jeremy Roach scored eight of Duke’s final 12 points in sealing the win against the Tar Heels. But the captain was out of sorts all night long in this one, struggling with his jumper and being particularly careless with the rock. The Virginian finished 3-of-8 from the field for 10 points, committing five turnovers along the way.
It was all Hurricanes early on, as Miami ripped off a 13-1 run to start the contest. Omier opened things up with a triple from the top of the key, and then Isaiah Wong made Tyrese Proctor pay for a turnover, jamming it home and letting out an emphatic yell to put the Hurricanes up 5-0.
Scheyer called his first timeout of the night after Poplar made it 10-1, but that only delayed Wong’s first three of the night. Offensively, Miami simply did what it does best—spread the court, get downhill and find open shooters.
"This game was about pure adrenaline. Just from start to finish, effort, in every category," Hurricane head coach Jim Larrañaga said.
Duke, on the contrary, could not get going in the slightest offensively, as Kyle Filipowski, Lively and Jacob Grandison all had trouble finishing around the rim. By the under-12 timeout, the Blue Devils trailed 17-7, were yet to hit a triple and seemed to have a serious case of the Mondays.
Scheyer switched to a 1-3-1 zone out of that break, and while it helped contain Wong and Pack, Duke could not snap out of its funk on the other end. Turnovers by Roach and Mark Mitchell squandered any mojo garnered from a wing Filipowski three to make it 19-10, and Miami had a clear edge in transition. Poplar, via a thunderous jam, and Wong, via a righty lay-in, contributed to an 11-2 first half advantage in fast-break points and helped the Hurricanes extend their lead to 32-17 by the under-four media timeout.
Thanks to its frontcourt, Duke showed a bit of life down the stretch in the opening frame. Mitchell got Omier in the air thanks to a pump fake, adding three points the old-fashioned way to make it 36-22. Filipowski then set Young up in transition to cut the deficit to 12, forcing Larrañaga to burn his first timeout of the night.
Miami came out of that timeout locked in, scoring on its final two possessions of the half—including a lob from Pak to Omier as time ran out—to head to the break up 40-26.
"As bad as we played, we were talking in the first half, 'Just cut it to 10, get it to 10 at halftime and we'll regroup and recover,' but we could never do that," Scheyer said.
The Blue Devils now get four days off to regroup before facing No. 8 Virginia on the road Saturday at 4 p.m.
"Couple hard-a-- practices and film and talking to each other and leadership and all that," Grandison said on Duke's approach over the next few days.
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Max Rego is a Trinity senior and an associate sports editor for The Chronicle's 118th volume. He was previously sports managing editor for Volume 117.