It has been just over a year since the Miami Hurricanes pulled an improbable upset against No. 2 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The 76-74 win, courtesy of Kameron McGusty’s layup with 22.8 seconds to go, was the first time Miami beat a Top-5 team in nearly six years and set a program record for the highest-ranked opponent it has beaten on the road.
Now, the ‘Canes (15-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)) are returning to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday to take on the Duke Blue Devils (13-5, 4-3 ACC) for the first time since their upset win last season.
The tides have turned, however, as No. 17 Miami will be facing a Duke team that just dropped out of the AP rankings this past week.
But this does not mean Miami will cruise to victory. Duke holds a clear height advantage with two centers over seven feet — starter Kyle Filipowski and reserve Dereck Lively II. Miami’s starting frontcourt is led by two 6-foot-7 players, Norchad Omier and Jordan Miller.
“We gotta guard Filipowski and those big guys very well,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We must keep them all off the offensive boards while still not letting their guards kill us from the perimeter.”
That task could be easier if guard Jeremy Roach, who is questionable to play because of a toe injury that has kept him sidelined for three games, is out of the lineup.
So far this season, the Blue Devils’ size hasn’t seemed to matter. Duke lost their last game by eight to Clemson, which holds sole possession of first place in the ACC, thanks to their horrific 38.1 field goal percentage. Before that loss, they suffered a 24-point defeat to NC State, a team that Miami is 1-1 against this year.
However, these ACC losses all had a common theme: they came on the road. At home, Duke is a perfect 9-0. Cameron Indoor Stadium hosts almost 10,000 crazed Duke fans every time the team plays and has only seen 12 losses in the building since the 2004-2005 season.
“They’re called the ‘Cameron Crazies’ for a reason,” senior guard Jordan Miller said. “Duke has made a name for themselves, and obviously, the team is excited to play there. But, most importantly, we want success coming out of Cameron like we did last year.”
The difficulty of playing at Cameron Indoor does not bode well for the Hurricanes. Miami is just 2-2 on the road in the ACC and has yet to win an away game since beating Notre Dame on Dec. 30.
Even with the lack of success on the road, this Hurricanes team is no stranger to adversity. In their previous game on Monday, the ‘Canes came back from an 11-point deficit to steal a win from Syracuse, 82-78.
“A lot of us have been in situations like that before, so the ability to show poise down the stretch and being able to close out games when we need to [is key],” Miller said.
The Hurricanes’ late game execution will certainly be key on Saturday if they hope to hand Duke its first home loss of the season. Tip-off is scheduled for noon on ESPN.