Miami Hurricanes at Duke Blue Devils game preview
Miami coach Jim Larranaga wasn’t sure of the last time Duke lost consecutive ACC regular-season games.
It turns out that hasn’t happened in nearly six seasons.
That only adds to the difficulty of Tuesday night’s challenge for the Hurricanes as they look to snap the fourth-ranked Blue Devils’ NCAA-best 41-game home win streak.
Duke (14-1, 2-1) fell 87-75 at North Carolina State on Sunday, failing in its bid for a seventh 15-0 start under coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Now the Blue Devils seek to avoid consecutive ACC defeats for the first time since Feb. 11-15, 2009.
"I don’t know the last time they have ever lost two conference games during the regular season, back-to-back, I am sure it has been a while," Larranaga said.
Duke is the conference’s highest scoring team at 83.8 points per game and fifth-best in the nation in shooting at 50.7 percent. The problem Sunday was its defensive effort — the Wolfpack shot 55.0 percent for the highest allowed by the Blue Devils.
Krzyzewski, three wins shy of 1,000, said the game would be a good lesson for his star-studded freshman while claiming defense won’t be the focus of practice.
"We work on everything, there isn’t one specific thing," Krzyzewski said. "You game plan and we’re constantly looking to improve on all areas of the game."
Freshman Jahlil Okafor dominated inside with 23 points and 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double and fourth overall. He’s the ACC’s leading scorer at 19.2 points per game and tops the country in field-goal percentage at 68.4 percent.
"They’re such a well-balanced team," Larranaga said. "They have the premier low-post player in the country in Jahlil Okafor. He is surrounded by outstanding perimeter shooters, 3-point shooters that can really stretch your defense."
Miami (11-4, 1-1) will be counting on 7-foot junior Tonye Jekiri to use his experience to his advantage against Okafor. Jekiri is the conference’s leading rebounder at 9.9 per game, and he had 13 points and 15 rebounds in Saturday’s 60-56 victory over Boston College.
"Jekiri has really developed and he protects the rim so well," Krzyzewski said.
Hurricanes newcomers Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan combined for 28 points on 11-of-24 shooting against the Eagles. They form a scoring tandem new to the ACC with Rodriguez a transfer from Kansas State and McClellan from Texas.
"They’re extremely well-coached, they’ll actually end up being a veteran team because of the transfer they’ve had come in," Krzyzewski said. "Rodriguez is just a terrific player and competitor and McClellan, you have two ready-made stars for your team."
Duke has also won 19 straight ACC home games, though Miami has played well in recent visits to Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Hurricanes have split two overtime contests in their last four trips there, and fell 79-76 on March 2, 2013, in their last game in Durham, North Carolina.
"It’s very difficult to play Duke no matter what the arena but on their home court with their students and fans sitting right there, it’s not one of the large venues in our league or in our country, but it’s one of the best," Larranaga said.
Duke won 67-46 on the road in the last meeting Jan. 22, though much has changed for both teams since.