Miami suffers blowout loss at the hands of Duke, 84-55

Late in the 55-84 loss against No. 8 Duke, Head Coach Jim Larrañaga calls a timeout, glancing at the scoreboard in the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Charisma Jones

Last February, fans packed into Watsco Center, wearing all-white, for a highly anticipated showdown with the Duke Blue Devils. The raucous crowd rallied behind the ‘Canes as they dismantled Duke for a statement win in front of the nation. However, a year later, the ninth-ranked Blue Devils returned the favor.

No. 9 Duke led Miami the entire game as they destroyed the Hurricanes on their home court, 84-55, on Wednesday night, marking the fifth straight defeat for UM.

The ‘Canes were without a pair of stars for this matchup as junior guard Nijel Pack missed his second straight game with a knee injury, and FSU transfer Matthew Cleveland was out while dealing with an illness. The top-heavy Hurricanes sorely missed their production in this crushing loss.

“We ran into a very good team tonight,” said head coach Jim Larranaga, “every mistake we made, we paid for it. Some of our issues are we’re deep right now so fatigue can definitely be a factor.”

Miami (15-12, 6-10 ACC) shot the ball poorly all night, ending with a 31% clip from the field and 24% from long range. The Hurricanes also turned the ball over nine times in their blowout loss.

Sophomore guard Bensley Joseph and junior forward Wooga Poplar led Miami in scoring with 15 points apiece, but both shot below 50% from the field, as did most of the key players for the Hurricanes.

Junior forward Norchad Omier, a bright spot for Miami all season, had a rough night as Duke’s size forced a 9-point, 3-of-14 from the field, shooting performance from Miami’s star big man.

As for the Blue Devils, senior guard Jeremy Roach led the way with 16 points, with sophomores Mark Mitchell and Kyle Filipowski not far behind with 15 points each. Duke’s (21-5, 12-3 ACC) 84-point performance was powered by its 13 threes on 45% shooting, with eight coming in the first half.

In the first half, Miami continued to deal with the offensive inconsistency that has plagued the Hurricanes all season. The Hurricanes began the game, knocking down only six of their first 21 field goal attempts as the Blue Devils took a 15-point lead through 14 minutes.

Miami continued to be ice cold from the field in the first frame, shooting a dismal 29% as the Hurricanes dug themselves into a 17-point hole at the break. The only sign of life on offense for Miami was junior forward Wooga Poplar, who poured in 10 points, including two three-pointers in the first half.

Meanwhile, on the visiting side, sophomore forward Mark Mitchell and senior guard Jeremy Roach dropped 10 and 11 points, respectively, to lead Duke’s dominant first half. The Blue Devils also inflicted six first-half turnovers on the ‘Canes, with half of those committed by Omier primarily due to double-teams.

UM’s first-half woes carried over into the second half as the ‘Canes continued to get few shots to fall while Duke’s offense hummed along, decimating Miami’s defense from beyond the arc.

The match became a blowout as the second half progressed as Duke coasted to an easy 84-55 victory.

The Hurricanes will be back in action on Saturday at the Watsco Center to host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The tip-off for Saturday’s matchup will be at 4 p.m., and the game will air on ACC Network.