Ten days after pushing Virginia to double overtime, Miami put together another sterling effort against one of the ACC’s heavyweights.
And this time, the Hurricanes spared themselves the disappointment of a moral victory, using a 56-point second half effort to snap fourth-ranked Duke’s 41-game home winning streak with a 90-74 triumph on Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Angel Rodriguez (24) and Manu Lecomte (23) combined for 47 points to lead the Hurricanes. Sheldon McClellan added 14.
Many of Rodriguez's and Lecomte's points came when they drove to the rim.
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“Our goal was to set at least one if not two or three or four ball screens in every possession,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said. “Because our guards are best when they’re on the attack – the ball screens gives them a chance to get them free just a little bit and then attack the big. … We had some success with that and we just tried to keep it going throughout the game.”
Rodriguez’s effort left Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski impressed.
“Rodriguez not only scored, but he controlled the game,” he said. “It was one of the best performances I’ve seen from an opposing player at Cameron. He was great – not good, but great.”
Miami (12-4, 2-1) has been successful in the Blue Devils’ venerable home gym since the arrival of Larrañaga in 2011 – the Hurricanes beat Duke 78-74 in overtime in 2012 and lost 79-76 in 2013.
The Blue Devils (14-2, 2-2) hadn’t stumbled at home since shortly after Miami's win in 2012. What’s more, the Duke was coming off an 87-75 loss at N.C. State on Sunday – the Blue Devils were 26-2 in the game after a loss since 2009-10.
But in the midst of a stretch where they play No. 3 Virginia, No. 4 Duke and No. 12 Notre Dame in 14 days, Miami took control with a dominant second half that saw the Hurricanes take a double-digit lead with more than 11 minutes remaining. Miami didn’t give the Blue Devils an opening the rest of the way, hitting 66.7 percent of its shots after halftime.
The Hurricanes’ defense, meanwhile, forced Duke to shoot only 28.6 percent for 3-pointers while holding phenom freshman Jahlil Okafor to a modest 15-point effort.
The performances against two of the ACC’s more highly regarded teams stands in stark contrast to some of the Hurricanes’ other efforts in the last month – Miami lost by 28 at home to Eastern Kentucky and also fell to Green Bay and Providence.
“Looking back to it, I think it was a humbling experience,” Rodriguez said. “With so many new guys on the team, sometimes it could be hard to handle success. Early in the season, we had a lot of success – we made the top 15.
“Ever since then, the intensity wasn’t there on defense; the attention to detail wasn’t there. Every day, no matter who you play, you’ve got to come to play. Because if not, you see what happens.”
After Duke scored on its first two possessions of the second half to take a 39-36 lead, Miami responded with a 9-0 run. Tonye Jekiri scored on a layup, Lecomte hit a 3-pointer, Rodriguez had a driving layup and Lecomte finished on a fast break to put the Hurricanes up 45-39.
The Blue Devils called a timeout after Lecomte’s layup to try to stop Miami’s momentum, but the Hurricanes kept on pressing. As a result, Duke had to take another timeout a little less than 4 minutes later after Lecomte swished a bold pull-up 3-pointer in transition to push Miami’s lead to 11 points – 57-46 with 11:41 remaining.
From there, Okafor did score on consecutive possessions to invigorate a Cameron crowd that appeared disengaged at times on a cold, drizzly night.
But each time Duke attempted to assert itself, Miami made a steal, rebound or 3-pointer that maintained the Hurricanes’ advantage – Ja’Quan Newton scored on a drive in the half-court; McClellan hit a second-chance 3-pointer; Rodriguez knocked down a 3-pointer that bounced around the rim before falling.
With Miami up 66-54, the Hurricanes’ defense swarmed Duke’s Tyus Jones and forced a turnover. When the ball came back down the court, Omar Sherman banked in a 3-pointer to give Miami a 69-54 lead.
While it might be tempting to say it was that kind of night, the reality is the Hurricanes didn’t really need luck with the completeness of their performance.
“We didn’t just lose tonight – we got our butts beat,” Krzyzewski said.