Reporting Tim Kephart
CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – It’s been more than a month since the Miami Hurricanes kicked their season into high gear with a mauling of the then-number one ranked Duke Blue Devils. Since then both teams have had Saturday circled on the calendar for the rematch.
A win on Saturday in Cameron Indoor Stadium would give the Hurricanes its first ever outright regular season Atlantic Coast Conference championship. But winning at Cameron has not been done often as the “Cameron Crazies” come ready to get in opponents heads every night.
Duke has won 92 of its last 97 games at Cameron Indoor, according to STATS LLC.
“Being in a place where they have to chase us, they’re behind us, it’s kind of weird,” said Miami forward Kenny Kadji. “Obviously, I saw it coming.”
If that’s true, Kadji may have been the only one to see the potential the Canes had this season. Miami started out the year unranked and lost an exhibition game to Saint Leo and lost a regular-season game to Florida Gulf Coast University.
After struggling in a tournament in Hawaii, Miami started to get all its players healthy. Since then, the Canes have lost just one game, last weekend on the road against Wake Forest. Miami’s ten road wins more than double what any other team in the conference has posted.
Miami has won at Cameron before. Last year, the Canes rode center Reggie Johnson’s 27 points to victory against Duke in Durham. Coincidentally, UM also beat Duke by 27 points this year and left the Blue Devils humiliated on national television.
“They embarrassed us,” said Duke guard Seth Curry.
Not only did the Canes embarrass Duke, they also at one point taunted the Blue Devils. Miami’s five players slapped the floor on defense at one point, which many Duke players have done in the past at Cameron.
For Duke, the game is still crucial because the Blue Devils have yet to wrap up a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament which is set to start on March 14. Duke also has an outside shot at the ACC regular season championship if the Canes collapse over its final three games of the season.
For his part, Kadji said UM knows what’s at stake on Saturday and said the game could be memorable.
“It’s going to be the best game of the year, in my opinion,” Kadji said. “A coach like Coach K, who in my opinion is the best coach in the world, he’s going to have them ready. The whole program, the whole schools is going to be ready.”
Duke will be coming off a rare loss Thursday night. The Blue Devils lost on the road to the Virginia Cavaliers, 73-68. Duke was paced by Curry who had 28 points, with 23 of them coming after halftime.
Miami will be trying to pull of the dual goal of not only knocking off Duke at Cameron, but also claiming the ACC regular season championship on the floor of the ACC’s most dominant power over the last three decades.
“It would mean a lot,” Miami guard Trey McKinney Jones said. “One of our long-term goals at the beginning of the season was to win the regular-season ACC championship. To do it there, just to do it at all, it would mean the world to me.”
“People have been looking forward to this game on Saturday since we played them last,” UM head coach Jim Larranaga said. “But for us, we’ve had to take it one game at a time. …Almost every team in the ACC plays better at home than they do on the road and Duke is no different. They’ve got great fan support. The place will be packed and rockin’, probably hours before the game.”
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