As a team on the bubble, the Miami Hurricanes were in desperate need of a signature win to help justify that they deserved a spot in the NCAA tournament. On Wednesday night, they seemed to achieve just that in resounding fashion.
The Hurricanes (18-7, 5-6 ACC) beat the No. 4-ranked Duke Blue Devils 96-95 in front of a sold out crowd at the BankUnited Center. It was Miami’s first victory over Duke since Dec. 21, 1962.
Sophomore Dwayne Collins led Miami in scoring, totaling a career-high 26 points on 12-for-14 shooting. Jack McClinton also contributed 22 points for the Canes. Jon Scheyer paced the Blue Devils with 27, while shooting 5-for-9 from behind the three-point arc.
“What a win,” said head coach Frank Haith. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Duke and Coach Krzyzewski. It’s a great win.”
The Hurricanes came into the game looking to avenge an 88-73 loss to Duke on the road earlier this month. Miami won their previous two contests against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, both road games. Duke (22-3, 10-2 ACC) was recovering from only their second loss of the season, an 86-73 loss at Wake Forest.
Both the Hurricanes and the Blue Devils started sloppy, with each team committing two turnovers within the first minute of game play. After the teams began to settle down, Miami went on a 10-4 run, thanks in part to back-to-back three-pointers by Eddie Rios.
Duke, on the other hand, continued to commit turnovers, and didn’t look much like themselves offensively.
“There’s something missing this week,” said Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. “We are not the same team. It’s almost like someone’s come in and invaded their bodies.”
The Blue Devils shot 40 percent from the field in the first half, while committing 14 early turnovers.
Collins dominated inside in the first half, racking up 12 points. His impressive up-and-under layup at the end of the half gave the Canes a 41-36 lead at halftime.
“He was outstanding,” Haith said of Collins. “He played the way I think Dwayne is capable of playing.”
In the Canes’ previous meeting with Duke, Collins found himself in early trouble and attempted only one shot. On Wednesday, he controlled Miami’s offense, getting great position for easy layups and dunks.
Though the win was a good indication of Miami’s NCAA tournament chances, Haith refused to hail the win as such.
“Signature win, that’s something for the guys on ESPN to talk about,” Haith said. “I just know we got a great win tonight.”
Joel Brown may be contacted at email@example.com.