|Duke (22-6, 10-5) at Miami (19-8, 9-6)|
|When: Feb. 25 | 4 PM (ET)|
|Where: Watsco Center|
|Watch Live: CBS|
Saturday Duke, after being taken down by Syracuse, looks to rebound against a hungry Miami team. Miami is looking to build its resume against another top 15 team and Duke is looking to once again start a streak and build some momentum going into the ACC Tournament. With a number one seed virtually locked up for North Carolina, Duke and a host of other teams are vying for second place and good seeding in the tournament. More importantly for Duke is the chance to work themselves into shape for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Coach K has been less than enthused at the defensive output of the current iteration of his Blue Devils and it’s been a Jekyll and Hyde affair all year. Duke needs to establish themselves on the defensive end of the floor and that begins at Miami. Syracuse was not only the hungrier team on Wednesday but they were the team that got stops when they needed to. Duke was unable to give a consistent effort on that end of the floor and it became another game of trying to outlast and out-score. That can only take you so far and Miami presents a chance to right the ship. The streak was a little less impressive when you consider Duke’s inability to truly close out games or play with a lead. The last game at Miami Duke had to catch fire in the second half to pull out a victory. After only scoring 25 points in the first half Duke needed a Herculean effort to overcome and 11 point deficit at the break. Duke got unexpected contributions from Marques Bolden (8pts), Frank Jackson (10pts) and Matt Jones who score 13, all in the second half. Duke shot a blistering 66.7% in the second half and 62.5% from beyond the arc. Duplicating those percentages on the road isn’t likely so defense needs to rule the day.
- Coach Jim Larranaga is 4-3 against Duke during his tenure as head coach at Miami.
- No. 10/11 Duke will look to rebound from its first February loss when it visits Miami on Saturday.
- The contest is the second in a span of three road games in 11 days for Duke down the stretch. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has won an ACC-record 171 league road games.
- Duke has utilized the same starting lineup in seven of its last eight games. The lone exception was against Pitt, when Frank Jackson started for a hobbled Matt Jones.
- Two players are on the verge of joining Duke’s 1,000-point club as Amile Jefferson needs just eight points to reach the milestone and Luke Kennard needs 13.
- Duke leads the ACC with an average of 9.3 three-pointers per game in league play. Duke is shooting .424 from deep over its last eight games, making 10.8 per game in the span.
- On average, Duke out-scores opponents by 10.5 points from three-point territory.
- Kennard ranks third in the ACC with an average of 35.1 minutes per game. Despite the workload, he leads the ACC in three-point percentage (.461) and ranks second in scoring.
- Jayson Tatum is averaging 18.8 points in Duke’s last four games. He is shooting .521 from the floor and .591 from deep while making all 12 of his free throw attempts.
- Jefferson has blocked a career-high 42 shots this season and needs five blocks to move into a tie for 10th place on Duke’s career list (120).
The Hurricanes have been a program that has given Duke fits over the years and in six seasons in the ACC, Miami has at least a .500 record against 11 league opponents.
Last time out:
The Canes took UVA to overtime and beat the Cavaliers on their home court.
The X-factor for the Canes is Sophomore Anthony Lawrence Jr. Over the last nine games, he has pulled down at least four rebounds in seven outings. In the last eight games, he has tallied at least three assists five times, including five in each of the last two games. If he can be a consistent force on the boards Duke will have to account for him. Miami will also need to take care of the basketball after turning it over 18 times in the first meeting.
As mentioned before Duke needs to right the ship defensively or risk not only squandering a high seed in the NCAAT but possibly enduring a quick exit. What Duke needs to figure out is who they are going to be when the shots stop falling. Can Duke change the narrative of this season and step up or rely solely on the 3 point shot as the sole means of survival. Granted rare is the team that will be able to cap the scoring output of Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen and Jayson Tatum but should 2 of 3 have an off night Duke is supremely vulnerable. Another story line for the Devils in this game is whether or not the freshman bigs will see action. Marques Bolden was a big part of Dukes victory against Miami at Cameron but say zero action against Syracuse. Harry Giles has steady improved on both ends of the floor but has mostly been a first half player.
Last time out:
Duke was unable to maintain a lead they amassed at halftime. Even with Duke for the most part solving the 2-3 zone of Syracuse Duke floundered in the waning minutes of the game. Duke’s execution down the stretch lost this game for the Devils – A mix of poor shot selection, bad clock management and poor defense. Duke lost on a buzzer beater by John Gillon who torched Duke for 26 points ending a streak of 7 straight wins by the Blue Devils.
It’s simple – contain Miami’s guards and rebound the basketball. Duke has played much better on the road as of late but Miami has been a house of horrors for Duke. Duke will once again need to up their game and contain the Miami triumvirate of guards. Ja’Quan Newton is back from his 3 game suspension and while he didn’t shoot particularly well against Duke he did score 13. Bruce Brown shot well against Duke, going 6 of 10 for 15 points. Duke will also need to curb the production of Davon Reed who torched Duke for 19 points.
Duke is in dire need of defensive stoutness, this is an opportunity for them to cement a seed in the ACCT and possibly the NCAAT. It could also be a chance for Duke to utilize the bench and if Duke can get a substantial lead perhaps rest some ailing players. Unfortunately I think this game is going to be a nail biter for the Blue Devils who will have to scratch and claw for the win.