No. 18 Duke handles Miami in conference clash

Despite a star-studded crowd and the electric anticipation of Duke’s return to Coral Gables, the Miami Hurricanes were no match for the No. 18 Blue Devils during Wednesday’s 67-46 loss.

ESPN’s Dick Vitale, NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, James Jones and Shane Battier were among 7,972 fans in a near sellout at the BankUnited Center.

But Miami turned in a sloppy performance that deflated most of the hype.

Winning the tipoff, Hurricanes center Tonye Jekiri was the first to score. His early layup marked the only moment in which Duke (15-4, 5-2 ACC) trailed on the night.

UM forward Donnavan Kirk, a graduate student, led the Canes with 11 points and shot 45 percent from the field.

Jekiri, guard Garrius Adams and junior forward James Kelly each added eight points for the Canes (10-8, 2-4 ACC) .

Duke’s freshman forward Jabari Parker – widely anticipated to be a top NBA draft pick – was 5-for-12 from the field and 7-of-8 at the free throw line to lead all scorers with 17 points.

Rodney Hood, a redshirt sophomore, also put up impressive numbers for the Blue Devils with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

From early in the first half, Miami struggled with turnovers, coughing up the ball eight times before the break.

The Canes were also weak on the boards. Duke nabbed 42 total rebounds to Miami’s 28.

“Jabari was a beast on the boards tonight, terrific … I think the one stat that really stands out for me was our rebounding,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “For us to outrebound them like that was a key factor in us winning that game.”

Jim Larranaga recognized the significance as well.

“One thing I told the players after the game is that rebounding is nothing more than going after a loose ball: A guard can get a rebound, the shortest guy on the court can get a rebound, it’s really about effort,” Miami’s third-year coach said.

Larranaga noted that Duke was able to come down with crucial offensive rebounds that gave them easy scoring opportunities.

“They basically outworked us in the first half,” Larranaga said. “Eighteen second-chance points, that hasn’t happened to us this year. We’ve got a good, big strong rebounding team, we can be very physical, but we didn’t show that tonight.”

Duke exacted revenge on the Hurricanes after last season’s 90-63 rout. Miami upended the Blue Devils (No. 1 at the time) in the third-biggest win over a top-ranked team.

“This year is this year, we can’t play in the past,” said Krzyzewski, addressing last year’s defeat at the BankUnited Center.

Looking forward, the Hurricanes are set to face No. 2 Syracuse at home. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“It really hurts when you lose, and we don’t want it to happen again,” Kirk said. “We’ve gotta fight … you’ve gotta be a player.”