On Saturday January 8, the Miami Hurricanes (13-3,5-0) traveled to Durham, N.C. to play the Duke Blue Devils (12-2,2-1) at the ‘Cathedral of College Basketball’, the venerated Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Against all odds the 15.5 underdog Canes won their ninth straight
game defeating #2 Duke 76-74 to become the only ACC team undefeated in conference play.
There is no way to over exaggerate the magnitude of Saturday’s win. It’s only one game, one of twenty in conference but the memories will last a
lifetime for Miami’s players, coaches, staff and supporters.
This back-and-back affair was tied 10 times and had 15 lead changes.
The undersized Canes gave up an average of three inches and 25 pounds at every position yet managed to outscore the Blue Devils 52-38 in the paint.
As Coach Jim Larranaga said going into the game “We’re not very big and we’re not very bulky. We know that when we play an ACC team they’re probably going to be bigger and more physical than we are. This is a
team that relies on each other, trusts each other and has confidence in each other.”
Every bit of that reliance, trust and confidence in each other was on display Saturday. I’ve been fortunate to attend a game at Duke and witness the undying support of the ‘Cameron Crazies’ for their Blue Devils. Having those rabid fans is a tremendous advantage for the home team and makes visiting teams job much more difficult.
Here’s how the first half went. The biggest lead either team had was eight and Miami’s came early 16-8, mainly with their strong team defense forcing turnovers against the normally sure handed Duke squad.
But this was Duke, they tightened their ‘D’ forcing 10 straight Miami misses over 5:24 while scoring 13 in a row to go up five 21-16.
The Devils extended their run to 18-2 and were up 26-18 with 7:02 left in the half. This is the time in a game when the building is shaking, the
Crazies crazy and the pundits and Duke faithful are all thinking, “Good night, sleep tight, turn off the lights” as they’ve seen it many times before and believe the game is theirs.
For Miami it was “gut check time” and “they answered the bell” holding Duke scoreless for the next five minutes, scoring 10 themselves to go up 28-26 with 2:52 left in the frame.
Duke scored the next six on two free throws each from both Trevor Keels and Paulo Banchero, followed by a Wendell Moore Jr layup before a Charlie Moore layup was followed by a C Moore steal and pass to Anthony Walker for a layup that closed the first half scoring at 32-32.
Quoting Coach L , “both teams exchanged punches in the second half…”
Neither team went up by more than two points in the first five minutes of the second half. W Moore’s 2 FTs put Duke up 5 with just over fourteen minutes left. An Isaiah Wong layup tied it at 52. An A C. Moore layup and a Kam McGusty jumper got Canes up 56-52.
With 9:14 left a McGusty layup completed a 13-2 run that included nine shots made in-a-row and gave Miami their largest second half lead 60-54.
Seconds later Banchero knocked down a three and C Moore came right down and hit a three of his own.
UM was now up 63-57. AJ Griffin then grabbed an offensive rebound and put it in , cutting the deficit to four. After the 8 min. media timeout a Griffin dunk
and two Keels FTs tied it up at 63 at 6:38 to go.
C Moore was charged with his fourth foul on the Keels foul and had to come out. A Wong layup at 6:16 put the Canes up two. Miami got its UM conference record 15th steal off Mark Williams on Dukes next possession then W Moore blocked a McGusty shot went down for a layup try that Sam Waardenburg blocked and on Miami’s next possession Waardenburg hit Jordan Miller with a back door pass that Miller slammed home and the Canes led 67-63 with 4:56.
Banchero set up in the low post took the pass, scored and made the FT on the plus one. Wong missed and Duke had the ball down one with just over four minutes left. W Moore missed an open three then Waardenburg again with a brilliant back door pass hit McGusty for a layup, now UM up 69-66 with three minutes remaining. Keels missed and Miller rebounded, Wong missed and W Moore tipped in a Jeremy Roach miss with 2:40 and it was a one point game.
Miami took a TO at 2:26 and C Moore was back in the game.
A great pass from C Moore to Miller for a layup made it 71-68 with 2:02. Williams slammed home a Roach miss with 1:35 and it was 71-70. Banchero blocked Wong’s shot then scored inside on a W Moore pass putting Duke ahead 72-71 inside a minute left.
Banchero then poked the ball away on Miami’s next possession, raced down court, took a pass and scored it in for a 74-71 Duke advantage as Miami took its last timeout with 0:44.9.
It was loud, incredibly loud and the Crazies were going crazier than ever.
Coming out of the timeout, C Moore was driving to the basket and as he was fouled, threw up a hope and prayer towards the hoop that astonishingly went in at 0:33.3.
Now Duke 74-UM 73. C Moore missed the FT but Miller came up with the biggest offensive rebound of his life, passed to Wong who got the ball to McGusty and Kam went right to the basket and took it over Roach and W
Moore for two.
UM up 75-74 with 0:22.8.
Keels went inside and missed. Waardenburg tipped the rebound to Wong who was fouled with 0:8. Wong made the front end of the one-and-one, missed the second and Duke had a shot down two. W Moore put up a three with just over two seconds left that missed and went out of bounds off Miami with 0:0.7 and the Blue Devils had one more chance.
Keels took a three off the inbound but it wasn’t close and Miami had earned the win.
Charlie Moore led the Canes scoring with 18 points on 7-13 shooting and had 7 steals for a UM individual ACC record.
Jordan Miller added 17 and the biggest rebound of his life.
Isaiah Wong had 15 including 10 in the second half.
Sam Waardenburg had 5 assists and 3 blocks.
Wooga Poplar led Miami with 6 boards in just over ten minutes of play.
Kam McGusty had 14 including the game winner. Asked where the victory ranked in his career, McGusty didn’t hesitate. “Woooo! I’m not going to lie, this is No. 1 without a doubt. I had my Dad in the stands. Just beating Duke. Not too many kids or young adults get to say they beat a blueblood and made a game winning shot. It’s a blessing.”
Charlie, in his post game half-court interview said,” I’m excited, we played
extremely hard, we played together and we stuck to the game plan, we should be excited.”
As a team Miami turned Duke over 17 times including their 15 steals. Miami scored 17 points off the Duke turnovers. Miami only committed 5 turnovers and Duke scored only two points off the Canes miscues.
Duke’s Pablo Banchero, a sure fire NBA lottery pick was outstanding and
finished as the games leading scorer with 20.
Wendell Moore Jr had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Mark Williams added 12 points, 7 boards and 6 blocks.
This is a very exciting team. The next home games are against North Carolina on Tuesday 1/18 at 7:00 then Florida State on Saturday 1/22 at 2:00. Do yourselves and the Hurricanes a favor and come help support this group that needs you.
Be well and safe all. Go Canes!