The top-ranked Duke Blue Devils put their new ranking on the line on Wednesday, as they take on the 25th-ranked Miami- Florida Hurricanes in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown at the BankUnited Center.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils have ascended the top-25 for the second time this season and sport a 16-1 overall record coming into this contest. The team distanced itself from that lone loss, an 84-76 setback at NC State, with last week's 73-57 drubbing of Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils were idle this past weekend and watched teams in front of them in the rankings falter, giving Duke another shot at the top spot.
Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes would like nothing better than to send the Blue Devils tumbling again. Miami is the only unbeaten left in ACC play at 4-0. The team has won five consecutive games overall coming into this contest and moved to 13-3 with a thrilling 60-59 win at Boston College last time out.
Duke has won 15 of the 18 all-time meetings with Miami and is 8-2 in Coral Gables. Miami however, won last year's matchup in Durham to snap a five-game win streak in the series for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils are currently at less than 100 percent as Ryan Kelly is sidelined with a foot injury. Kelly's scoring wasn't needed though in the win over Georgia Tech, as Seth Curry netted 24 points, thanks in large part to a 6-of-7 effort from behind the arc. Mason Plumlee recorded his 11th double- double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Rasheed Sulaimon poured in 15 points. Duke shot just 40 percent from the floor in the game, but forced Tech into 21 turnovers.
Duke has been much more efficient in terms of shooting the basketball on the year, as the team converts 47.3 percent from the floor, including a hefty 42.2 percent from 3-point range. Kelly's 13.4 ppg are missing for the immediate future, but there is plenty of depth to compensate. Plumlee is one of the top interior players in the country, shooting 59.1 percent overall and averaging a double-double with team-highs of 17.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Curry provides perimeter balance at 16.9 ppg. Fellow guards Quinn Cook and Sulaimon add to the scoring punch with 11.5 and 11.0 ppg, respectively.
Miami is also functioning at less than full strength, as their big man, center Reggie Johnson has been sidelined with a broken thumb for more than a month. Johnson is averaging a double-double in his limited playing time (12.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg) and leaves a huge hole in the middle of the lineup for Miami. The Hurricanes rely on their defensive tenacity to get the job done and rank among the nation's best in both scoring defense (58.4 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.375). A trio of guards have led the way in the form of Durand Scott (13.8 ppg), Shane Larkin (12.2 ppg) and Trey McKinney Jones (9.8 ppg). Forward Kenny Kadji (12.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) has been called upon to shoulder the workload in the frontcourt in Johnson's absence.
Scott iced the game in the waning moments against Boston College, sinking four free throws down the stretch to help Miami escape with a victory and remain unbeaten in the ACC. Scott led the team with 15 points. Kadji was right behind him with 14 points, while McKinney Jones tallied 11.