MIAMI (CBS Miami) – Miami had four players finish with double digit points as the No. 14 ranked Hurricanes were too much for No. 20 Duke, taking out the visiting Blue Devils 80-69 Monday night in front of a capacity crowd at the Bank United Center.
Sheldon McClellan’s 21 points was a game-high while Ja’Quan Newton and Davon Reed added 15 and 14 points respectively. But it was senior guard Angel Rodriguez’s double-double of 13 points and 11 assists that really lifted the Canes.
Miami (16-3, 5-2 ACC), winners of three straight after losing the first pair of a three-game road trip, held as large as a 55-41 lead with nine minutes left in the second half before Duke cut the lead down to 60-55 with just over five minutes to play.
That would be as close as the Blue Devils (15-6, 4-4) would get. The Hurricanes responded with two quick buckets – a floater by Reed and an alley-oop dunk by McClellan – to push the lead back to nine as Miami outscored Duke 20-14 over final minutes.
Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga, in his fifth season leading the Canes, came into Monday’s game having won three of his previous five meetings against Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils – and he said that the key to Monday’s win was ball movement and ball security.
“The key was the 24 assists to just seven turnovers,” Larrañaga said. “It’s been quite a 72 hours. Coming off the game against Wake Forest, we were only able to walk-through to get ready for Duke…only work on the mental part of the game. But the guys absorbed the game plan that we gave them in a short amount of time and they executed it tonight.”
“Our team is better when we’re able to get out and run,” Larrañaga said. “Recently we’ve played some conservative teams…teams that want to slow the game down. We’re not a team that’s at its best when it’s a half-court game where you have to run an offense. We knew against Duke the tempo would be faster and we’d get up and down more – then we’re just playing fast, getting after it.”
“Also, the guys played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm tonight, which I credit the crowd for. The crowd was great. The student section really showed up tonight. I want to officially invite them back to every home game,” Larrañaga joked.
While Larrañaga said it was Miami’s attention to the micro, coach Krzyzewski pointed to a macro factor.
“[Miami] is one of the better teams in the country. They’re very physical,” Krzyzewski said. “We haven’t been in a game like that – a game that physical – all season. We can’t practice for that level of physicality…mainly because we don’t have the guys. I’d say that our guys played hard and competed tonight, but [Miami] is just better than we are.”
“They’re one of the best teams in the country,” Krzyzewski reiterated.
The Blue Devils dropped their fourth game in five tries – with all four of those recent losses coming at the hands of ACC opponents.
Duke sophomore guard Grayson Allen fell a quite shy of what would have been an ACC-leading fourth game scoring 30 or more points. Allen managed 17 points but was just 6-for-17 from the field (1 of 5 from three-point range) and had three turnovers.
6-foot-9 super freshman Brandon Ingram had a much more efficient night, finishing with a team-high 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting while also grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds. But Ingram’s points weren’t impactful on the game as Miami was able to put the Blue Devils in an early hole and never really let them back in the game.
“We get in the weight room and we work,” Larrañaga said. “One of the things we work on a lot is cutting off dribblers. Duke is a team that’s great at straight line driving, but our guys we’re in good position and we were right there with them.”
“We’re not just getting out of their way,” Larrañaga said.
Senior center Tonye Jekiri certainly didn’t get out of anyone’s way Monday. The 7-foot big man did a “yeoman’s job” patrolling the paint on both ends of the floor – challenging Blue Devils’ shots in the paint and digging out second chance opportunities on the offensive glass.
Jekiri finished with 10 rebounds and two blocks to go along with seven points and three assists – two of which coming in clutch moments at the end of the second half.
Also, Rodriguez’s performance Monday was in line with his stellar play against the Blue Devils. The last time he played against Duke, Rodriguez poured in a game-high 24 points and dished five assists to lead Miami to a 90-74 win. Monday he was a scorer in the first half and a distributor in the second – finding McClellan on all of his alley-oop dunks.
“I felt like Rodriguez gave them a lot of leadership tonight,” Krzyzewski said. “Whenever he plays like that, he takes them to another level.”
That “next level” is something that Miami believes it is playing in. The Canes, who will travel to North Carolina State for a Jan. 30 game, have been ranked in the top 20 in all of the major polls for the better part of a month and clearly showed that it is one of the best basketball teams in the country Monday.
Rodriguez said that while beating a perennial power and respected program like Duke is nice, the Canes have a bigger goal in mind.
“We’re taking pride in making people respect us,” Rodriguez said. “Of course playing the powerhouse teams is one of the reasons why you come play in the ACC. But we’re out to show that we’re a very good team.”