Published March 02, 2013
| Sports Network
Durham, NC – Ryan Kelly wasn't about to miss Senior Night, and the Duke forward gave the Cameron Crazies a night to remember.
Kelly erupted for a career-high 36 points in his first game action in nearly two months, enabling the third-ranked Blue Devils to gain a measure of revenge for their worst loss of the season with a 79-76 ousting of No. 5 Miami- Florida.
Kelly had missed 13 consecutive games, including Duke's 90-63 dismantling at the hands of the ACC-leading Hurricanes in Coral Gables on Jan. 23, due to a right foot injury, but showed absolutely no rust in making good on 10-of-14 field goal attempts that included a 7-of-9 success rate from 3-point range.
And Duke (25-4, 12-4 ACC) needed every one of Kelly's points after the Hurricanes battled back from a 75-65 deficit with under two minutes left to give themselves several chances to tie or go ahead in the final seconds.
The last attempt, a 3-point try from the left corner from Rion Brown, rimmed out as time expired to prevent the Hurricanes (23-5, 14-2) from clinching their first-ever outright ACC regular-season title.
Miami had already locked up the No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference tournament, however, by virtue of Duke's 73-68 loss at Virginia on Thursday.
Shane Larkin scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half for Miami, which also received a 17-point, 10-rebound effort from Kenny Kadji in defeat.
Quinn Cook added 15 points for the Blue Devils, who hit on 11-of-23 shots from beyond the arc to prevail.
Neither team had been ahead by more than three points over the first 10 minutes of a second half that saw nine lead changes and five ties, with Miami taking a 56-53 edge on a Durand Scott layup with 10:23 left to play.
Kelly made a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to pull Duke within one, then buried a trey to highlight a 7-0 run that Mason Plumlee capped with a basket that put the Blue Devils up 60-56.
Duke's margin was two with under five minutes to go, before embarking on a 10-2 spree culminating in a Cook 3-pointer that created a 75-65 score with 1:55 remaining.
That would be the Blue Devils' last field goal of the game, however, allowing the Hurricanes to make one last charge down the stretch.
Trey McKinney Jones hit a triple and Larkin made 1-of-2 from the line to cut the lead to 78-76 with 53 seconds to play, and Plumlee missed a wide-open Seth Curry on the inbounds pass to turn the ball over to Miami.
Larkin lost the ball on the resulting trip, though Curry managed to sink just 1-of-2 foul shots with 20 seconds left to give Miami a chance to force overtime.
Larkin misfired on a three, but the Hurricanes got the rebound and got the ball to Brown alone on the wing for a shot that landed off the rim as the clock ran out.
Kelly was red-hot right from the start, scoring seven of Duke's first nine points and dropping in a total of 20 during a torrid first-half display in which the valuable senior knocked down five of his seven shots from beyond the perimeter.
Three of those triples came during a 13-4 run that gave the Blue Devils a 33-31 lead with two minutes left in the opening period, with the sequence coming after Miami had threatened to pull away by putting together a 10-5 burst that had staked the Hurricanes to a seven-point advantage.
Kadji answered with a 3-point play to put Miami back in front, and the 'Canes went into the break claiming a 36-34 lead following McKinney-Jones' jumper with 37 seconds remaining.
Duke is now 16-0 with Kelly in the lineup this season ... Kelly shattered his previous career best of 23 points, set against Wake Forest on Feb. 28, 2012 ... Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski recorded his 879th win at Duke, tying Dean Smith of rival North Carolina for the second-most at a single school ... The Blue Devils are now 4-0 this season against opponents ranked in the top five at tip-off, having previously bested then-No. 2 Louisville, No. 3 Kentucky and No. 4 Ohio State ... Miami finished with a 40-27 rebounding advantage after topping Duke by a 41-25 count on the glass in January's victory.