Duke nails Miami in second half

Miami Head Coach Frank Haith shouts instructions to the Canes in the final minute of the game. Miami lost to the Blue Devils 81-71, their first double-digit loss in over a month. Alex Broadwell // The Miami Hurricane

The Duke Blue Devils might have taken the remaining air out of the Miami Hurricanes’ season.

After three straight victories for the Canes, Miami (15-10, 4-7) couldn’t keep up with the Duke Blue Devils’ shooting in the second half and lost 81-71.

Duke (23-2, 10-1) shot 50 percent for the game and senior guard Nolan Smith scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.  Miami took only six free throws for the game and Duke scored 19 second-chance points.

“I thought Duke played really well,” head coach Frank Haith said. “They shot the ball really well. We got to figure a way to get to the free throw. We got to get the line. Duke is one of those teams to go on runs.”

The Hurricanes now sit with seven loses in the ACC. The road will not be any easier as four of their six remaining games are on the road. Haith remains optimistic.

“As long as we got games on our schedule we have life,” he said.

The Hurricanes cut Duke’s lead down to 52-51 after a three-pointer by redshirt senior Adrian Thomas, but the Blue Devils rallied and went on a 9-0 run to get separation for the remainder of the game.

“I thought we beat a really good team,” four-time national champion head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.  “They lost all those close games. Then they come back and get on a winning streak. I think they are a very good team. Frank has done one of the best jobs in the league. When you face adversity you can see how tough your team is and they came back. They have really good heart.”

The game was neck and neck in the first half as Duke lead 42-37 at the break. Both teams shot 50 percent from the field and were equal in rebounds with 16 apiece. The difference showed in Duke’s 11 points off Miami turnovers and 17 second-chance points. Redshirt junior guard Malcolm Grant lead the Hurricanes with 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting while fighting foul trouble.

“I think Grant is one of the best shooters in the country,” Krzyzewski said.  “I told our kids if they shot 50 percent against us again then we are going to lose.”

Johnson was in a frenzy last time the Hurricanes played the Blue Devils despite being in foul trouble. Johnson scored 22 points and had nine rebounds in 23 minutes of action at Cameron Indoor Stadium. This time, he finished with 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting.

Duke held Miami’s backcourt in check in the second half as sophomore guard Durand Scott scored five points and Grant scored just four. Scott finished with 10 points and eight assists and Grant had 16 points.

“It’s really frustrating,” Grant said. “We just didn’t execute offensively and defensively. We didn’t come out with a victory and that’s really frustrating to me.”

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at lledoux@themiamihurricane.com.