The first-seeded Miami Hurricanes, the ACC regular season co-champions, took on the fourth-seeded Duke Blue Devils for the third time this season on Friday night. The teams split the series in the regular season, but this matchup had the biggest stakes yet.
A spot in the ACC championship game was on the line as the two ranked teams battled in Greensboro, North Carolina.
In a tightly contested game, Duke edged out the Hurricanes by a score of 85-78.
Duke’s freshman phenom Kyle Filipowski led the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding with a 17-point and 11-rebound performance in the win.
Fourth-year junior guard Isaiah Wong led the ‘Canes in scoring with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Meanwhile, fifth-year senior guard Jordan Miller paced Miami in rebounds with seven boards.
The ‘Canes were dealt a crushing blow to start the game, as forward Norchad Omier went down with an ankle injury and did not return. Fourth-year junior forward Anthony Walker saw an uptick in minutes as a result.
Against an elite rebounding team like Duke, Omier’s early exit led to a clear advantage on the glass for the Blue Devils, as they outrebounded Miami 36 to 24.
However, with a smaller lineup, the Hurricanes were able to speed the game up and beat Duke in transition with 13 points on fast breaks.
After trailing by seven early, a 9-0 run by Miami gave the Hurricanes a 16-14 lead halfway through the first half.
Despite Omier’s absence, Miami kept the game competitive in the first half. However, a late Duke surge put the Blue Devils up 41-36 at the break.
Guard Jordan Miller led the ‘Canes in first half scoring with nine points. Guards Isaiah Wong and Bensley Joseph had eight points each.
On the Duke side, guard Tyrese Proctor and forward Dariq Whitehead each poured in eight points in the first 20 minutes.
The second half played out similar to the first, with Duke leading for most of the half and the ‘Canes keeping it close throughout.
Miami’s full-court press and aggressive defense led to 12 turnovers for Duke, which created numerous opportunities on offense for the ‘Canes.
Wong proved his ACC Player of the Year status, scoring 14 second half points and knocking down some big shots to keep Miami afloat.
Following a Whitehead layup, the Blue Devils went up by seven, but a three-point play from Walker cut the lead back down to four with 54 seconds to go.
However, the ‘Canes missed some crucial shots in the last minute, and Duke made its free throws to hold on and win.
The Hurricanes will now wait for Selection Sunday to see who they will play in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The 68-team field will be revealed at 6 p.m. this Sunday on CBS.