Tonight, the #18 ranked Duke Blue Devils travel to the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables to face the Miami Hurricanes. Duke comes into the matchup after an impressive victory at home against N.C. State, winning by 35. Miami is also coming into this one with a road win at McCamish Pavilion, beating Georgia Tech 56-42. Duke stands currently at 14-4 (3-2 ACC) while Miami is 10-7 (2-3 ACC). Here is a breakdown of the Miami starting 5 from their last game:
Against Georgia Tech, the Miami starting lineup looked as follows: senior Rion Brown (6-6, 211 lbs guard), freshman Manu Lecomte (5-11 159 lbs guard), senior Garrius Adams (6-6 200 lbs guard), senior Donnavan Kirk (6-9 forward), and sophomore Tonye Jekiri (7-0, 235 lbs center). Rion Brown is the leading scorer for the Hurricanes, averaging 14.1 PPG followed by Donnavan Kirk with 9.9 PPG. Kirk is also the leader in assists per game with 6.7 while Brown is right behind with 6.4. This is not a Miami team that has a stellar individual rebounder, so their leader is Garrius Adams with 2.8 per game and Many Lecomte with 2.7 per game.
Miami has not played any tough teams yet this season outside of their close loss to Syracuse 49-44. This shows that they can play up to their opponents. They have had many bad losses this season though. On their opening night, Miami lost to St Francis (NY) 66-62 and later in the same month, they los by 5 to UCF. They also lost at home to George Washington by 9 (OT), another loss at Nebraska, and then a tough loss at home again to FSU by 10. This is not the same Miami team from last season. There is no Shane Larkin, Reggie Johnson, Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, or Julian Gamble. The core group of who Duke faced last season has graduated or left early for the NBA.
This Miami team is completely different from the one last season. In this one, I would expect the Hurricanes to try to expose Duke’s weakness down low. Look for them to feed the post and take their chances with Tonye Jekiri who learned from the senior big men from last season. He has a big size advantage against Amile Jefferson at 6 ft 8, Josh Hairston at 6 ft 7, and the tallest player on Duke, Marshall Plumlee who is 7 feet tall. He is not their best player or scorer, but with such a big size advantage and the inability shown by Duke in the past to stop big men, it is a chance worth taking. Also, look for the dribble-drive as Duke has had trouble with a team who can slice to the basket.
Another big point to watch for Duke is revenge. Yes, they did somewhat get their revenge last year at home when Ryan Kelly dramatically came back from his foot injury to pour in 36 points as Duke went on to win 79-76. This is the real revenge game. This is the same venue as last season when Duke was destroyed in Coral Gables and there were lobs being thrown off the backboard and slammed down to huge applause. The court was stormed and Duke was absolutely embarrassed. This we already know, but one memory sticks out the most when we speak of that game. The floor slap. We all remember late in the second half, led by Shane Larkin, when the entire Miami team simultaneously slapped the floor of the BankUnited Center, mocking a Duke tradition. One thing to watch in this one, a game in which Duke should most definitely win, would be for Duke led by point guard Quinn Cook, to slap the floor if the lead becomes larger late in the game.
I would expect the matchups to look as follows: Cook – Lecomte, Jones – Brown, Hood – Adams, Parker – Kirk, and Jefferson – Jekiri. Watch out for the shift changes that Duke has implemented recently and for a motivated Duke team to try to get their first true road win of the season.