On a Wednesday night when the BankUnited Center was supposed to be electrifying and exhilarating for the Miami Hurricanes, the evening ended with the sound of Duke fans cheering.
During halftime a ceremony recognized three former UM basketball greats with honorary jerseys, but the men’s basketball team couldn’t live up to their legacies or the sixth-ranked Blue Devils in an 81-74 loss.
The Canes (17-9, 3-9) lost just their second game at home this season and have now dropped two straight games when they have shot better than their opponents.
Duke (22-4, 10-2) used a 26-5 run to begin the second half and went on to score 56 points in the final 20 minutes for the victory.
“You’ve got to give Duke credit,” head coach Frank Haith said. “They made the shots down the stretch and we didn’t. They made big shots. We just couldn’t get stops. It was a hard-fought game.”
In the second half the Canes couldn’t stop the Blue Devils’ big three of junior forward Kyle Singler, senior guard Jon Scheyer and junior guard Nolan Smith, which combined for 58 points.
Singler, who played the entire game, set the tone with 12 points in the first five minutes after halftime and finished with a game-high 22 points.
“The difference is Singler took over in the second half,” Haith said. “He made the big shots and that give them what they needed.”
But the Hurricanes had the Blue Devils exactly where they wanted them in the first half, leading 37-25. Duke shot just 31 percent from the field, while Miami made 60 percent of its shots. Through the first 20 minutes the Hurricanes were led by freshman guard Durand Scott’s 11 points and senior forward Dwayne Collins’s nine points.
“They were unbelievably ready for us,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They outplayed us in the first half. They played their hearts out for us. I thought we beat a very good team tonight.”
Collins finished with a team-high 21 points on 5-for-6 shooting and 11-for-14 from the free throw line. Scott ended up with 19 points and senior guard James Dews added 16 points.
Like most of the season the Hurricanes were plagued by turnovers (22) and late rallies as they failed to stop Duke down the stretch. The Blue Devils took 15 more shots than Miami and made 13 three-pointers.
The Hurricanes have now lost four of their last five games and find themselves in unfamiliar waters as they might miss out on postseason play.
Miami continues to struggle in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the loss ensured a below-.500 record in conference play. The Hurricanes have never finished better than 8-8 in the ACC.
It’s been a tale of two teams for the Hurricanes: trail by double digits on road games and lead by double digits only to surrender it at home.
Some of that can be attributed to inexperience. Just two players from Miami’s trip to the 2008 NCAA Tournament remain on the roster.
With four regular season games remaining and three at home, Haith will ensure that his team competes despite this season’s tough losses.
“As long as we’ve got games on the schedule, we’ve got chances,” Haith said. “I still tell them we’ve got chances.”
Photos by Lindsay Brown // The Miami Hurricane