No. 2 Duke hopes to avoid usual trap at Miami

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When the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils visit the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night, both teams will enter the game on winning streaks.

Duke (12-1 overall, 2-0 ACC) is on a six-game roll, including an 88-49 takedown of Boston College on Tuesday night. Prior to that, Duke beat Brown 75-50, giving the Blue Devils consecutive games holding opponents to 50 or less points for the first time since 2010.

In the win over BC, Duke got starting point guard Tre Jones back in the lineup, and he responded with five points, a game-high 10 assists and just one turnover.

“There was some rust,” said Jones, who shot 2-for-8 after missing a pair of games due to an injured left foot. “But after the first few minutes, I felt good the rest of the game.”

Meanwhile, Miami (9-3, 1-1) is on a five-game win streak.

The Hurricanes are coming off an overtime 73-68 road win at ACC rival Clemson. After going 0-10 on the road last season, the Hurricanes are 3-0 in that scenario this season, with wins at Central Florida, Illinois and Clemson. And, in that win over Clemson, all three Hurricanes starting guards made significant contributions: Chris Lykes with 27 points and Dejan Vasiljevic and Kameron McGusty with 15 each.

“Our guards elevated their games,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.

Lykes, who leads the team with a 15.9 scoring average, also tops the ‘Canes in assists (2.8) and steals (1.6). He is only 5-foot-7, but his quickness, shooting and defense are all problems for opponents.

McGusty ranks second on Miami with a 15.2 scoring average. Vasiljevic, who is third on the team at 15.1 points per game, may be the best shooter in the ACC, making 35-of-75 on 3-pointers (46.7 percent).

Beyond their backcourt, the Hurricanes have some hope of an upset on Saturday because Miami has been a tough place for Duke to play lately. Of the Blue Devils’ past five trips to Miami, the Hurricanes are 3-2 despite being the underdog in each game.

The last time the teams met in Miami was on Jan. 15, 2018, and Duke — then ranked fifth in the nation — escaped with an 83-75 win.

However, that Miami team went 22-10 — 11-7 in the ACC — and made it to the NCAA Tournament.

The current Miami team lacks skill inside, and Duke will be a heavy favorite on Saturday thanks in part to the Blue Devils’ amazing recruiting class.

Duke starts three freshmen — 6-10 center Vernon Carey Jr., 6-8 forward Matthew Hurt and 6-5 guard Cassius Stanley. In addition, 6-6 freshman forward Wendell Moore is Duke’s fifth-leading scorer (7.5).

It’s the sixth straight year that Duke has had a recruiting class ranked top three in the nation by 247 Sports. Four of those classes were ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Duke’s top scorer this season is Carey (team-high 17.9 points and 9.0 rebounds), who is the son of a former Miami Hurricanes NFL offensive lineman. Saturday will be a homecoming for Carey, who was born and raised in the Miami area and is projected among the top 10 picks in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Jones is second on Duke in scoring (14.6) and No. 1 in assists (7.4). He’s an outstanding defender and distributor.

Hurt is third in scoring (11.5) but is coming off a career-high 25 points against BC, making 5-of-10 on 3-pointers in that game. Stanley is averaging just 10.3 points, but he is an acrobatic dunker just waiting for a breakout moment.

Duke, hoping this year to win its first national championship since 2015, fills out its starting lineup with 6-6 junior wing Alex O’Connell, who is known as a 3-point shooter but has been accurate on just 27.9 percent so far this season.

–Field Level Media

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