It was obvious before tipoff that the University of Miami game against No. 5 Duke was no ordinary Hurricanes home game.
Thirty-seven NBA scouts requested seats. Celeb couple Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez sat courtside. Heat owner Micky Arison showed up, and it was tough to find parking.
The game lived up to its ESPN “Big Monday” hype. Miami, ranked No. 25, opened up a 13-point second-half lead over the Blue Devils, electrifying the soldout Watsco Center. Duke then reeled off 18 consecutive points and stayed ahead for the 83-75 victory.
Duke shot 55 percent and held UM to 37 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from three-point range.
The Blue Devils held a 42-40 halftime edge after a Gary Trent Jr. three-pointer at the buzzer. Trent finished with a game-high 30 points.
“I thought both teams went right at each other, back and forth,” UM coach Jim Larrañaga said during his halftime courtside interview. “Chris Lykes had a terrific first half. Lonnie Walker really helped us. Our defense was pretty good, but their big guys are awfully good. We have to figure out a way to keep [Marvin] Bagley and [Wendell] Carter under control.”
The Canes did a respectable job on Marvin Bagley III, the freshman phenom who entered the game as the ACC’s leading scorer (22.5 points per game). He had just six points at halftime. Carter, also a highly touted freshman, was tougher to contain. He had a double-double at the half — 11 points, 10 rebounds — along with three assists. Bagley III finished with 13 and Carter with 15. Trevon Duvall added 17.
Walker led UM with 19 points. Dewan Huell had 18 points. Lykes and Anthony Lawrence 13.
Although Duke was favored over Miami, UM fans had reason to hope. The Canes were 5-3 against the Blue Devils under Larrañaga, including a 3-1 record at home.
Miami dropped to 13-4 overall and 2-3 in the ACC. Duke improved to 16-2, 4-2. UM plays at N.C. State on Sunday.