Preview: Duke (14-1) v. Miami (11-4)

The Blue Devils and Hurricanes will tip off on Tuesday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Miami HURRICANES

11-4 Overall; 1-1 ACC; 2-0 Away

PROJECTED STARTERS
F- 22 Omar Sherman (6.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
C- 23 Tonye Jekiri (7.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
G- 01 Deandre Burnett (9.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
G- 10 Sheldon McClellan (15.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
G- 13 Angel Rodriguez (14.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.3 apg.)

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STAR WATCH
Sheldon McClellan fits the exact criteria for guards who have given Duke fits this season. He’s big (6-foot-5, 205 pounds), can shoot (54/40/80 percent from the field, perimeter, and free throw line), and isn’t afraid to attack the basket (averaging more than 10 shots per game). Coming off a game in which Duke had no answers for the NC State backcourt, McClellan will likely be licking his cops if he was matched up as the team’s shooting guard. However, unlike NC State, the Hurricanes’ other two guards are smaller, which will leave McClellan to be checked by Justise Winslow.

Much like Winslow, McClellan is a terrific athlete with size and length that he utilizes on both ends of the floor. He loves to go off the bounce, but has also improved his perimeter shooting over the last few seasons - first at Texas and then at Miami. He’ll definitely be at the top of Blue Devil scouting report.

Alongside McClellan will be Angel Rodriguez, a 5-foot-11 super quick guard who has developed the reputation of a gamer. So far against then No. 3 Virginia and then No. 7 Florida the fourth year junior has averaged 24.5 points and 5.0 assists. Against Florida, he scored 22 of his 24 points in the final nine minutes, draining five second half three- pointers to help Miami earn the win. the junior scored 17 points in the second half against the Cavaliers, knocking down three clutch free throws with 0.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. in the two overtimes combined, he scored six points, including 4-4 at the line, and dished out three assists, accounting for 13 of Miami’s 17 overtime points.

THE STORYLINES



BACK HOME…AND WOUNDED?:
Toughness.

Duke didn’t have it for extended periods against Wake Forest. That issue carried over into the second road game of the week as the Blue Devils wilted under a Wolfpack onslaught, falling behind by as many as 19 in the second half.

“I don’t think we were as tough as we needed to be. You might think you are playing tough until you are placed in another situation that requires a whole other level. Were we are tough as we needed to be? No. Does that mean we’re soft? No.”

Will his team prove his theory correct?

Thats the question that will have been asked in Monday’s team meetings and walk throughs as Duke prepares for Miami. And, certainly, it’s easier to impose your will on an opponent with a loud home crowd behind you. Perhaps that’ll provide the spark for the Blue Devils, but as Matt Jones noted after the game in Raleigh…it also has to come from within.

“We’ll definitely look back and be like, ‘Man, we’ve got to dive on the floor, we’ve got to do the things that make Duke what Duke is,’” said the junior. “So we’ll definitely learn from this.”

LEARNING TO PLAY WITH OKAFOR
While teams certainly evolve over the course of the season, there are still extended periods of time when Duke’s perimeter players seem somewhat unsure of how to play with their starting center. It was a topic of conversation for Coach K early in the season, and promises to remain on the daily docket.

Of course, it’s a two way street.

Teams have figured out that they simply have no other option but to double team Okafor. But for the last few games when the double team came, none of Okafor’s teammates moved. It forced the center to put the ball on the floor to dribble away from pressure. When the ball was sent to the perimeter, the offense had to reset. That continual pause in the offense seemed to break any sense of flow on more than one occasion.

On the flip side, Okafor simply needs to be more aggressive. Often against NC State, and Wake Forest he was either posting too high, or receiving the ball and waiting for the double team to come before going to the basket. That kind of pause was just as damaging to the offensive attack.

Look for both issues to be addressed and, perhaps, better as Duke gets ready for Tuesday.



Notebook:

- The Blue Devils are 8-0 at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season and have won the past 41 home games. Duke’s current 41-game home win streak is tied for the third-longest run in school and league history. The Blue Devils own the only four 40+ home win streaks in ACC history.

- The Blue Devils have had a 20+ point scorer in 10 straight games. Jahlil Okafor has topped the 20-point mark in seven of the past 10 contests.

- Duke has lost back-to-back games in a season twice since the start of the 2009-10 season and is 26-2 following a loss during that span.

- A freshman has led the Blue Devils in scoring in 12 of 15 games. Jahlil Okafor has paced the offensive attack eight times, while Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow have each led Duke in scoring two times. The rookie trio has also accounted for 10 of Duke’s 11 20-point games on the year (Okafor 7, Jones 2, Winslow 1).

- Duke has out-rebounded its opponent in 14 of 15 games on the year and owns a +7.9 rebound margin. Michigan State is the only team to out-rebound the Blue Devils this season. Jahlil Okafor (58) and Amile Jefferson (44) have combined for 102 of Duke’s 184 offensive rebounds. Okafor is tied for ACC lead with 3.87 orpg., while Jefferson ranks seventh at 2.93 orpg.

- Rasheed Sulaimon has scored in double figures in all three ACC games. He is averaging 10.7 points, while shooting 60.0 percent (6-of-10) from three-point range in league play.


They Said It:

"I don't know the last time they have ever lost two conference games during the regular season, back-to-back, I am sure it has been a while.” - Miami coach Jim Laranaga

"They have the premier low-post player in the country in Jahlil Okafor. He is surrounded by outstanding perimeter shooters, 3-point shooters that can really stretch your defense." - Laranaga


The Prediction

Duke is back home and somewhat humbled after being outplayed and overmatched against NC State on the road. Many times the Blue Devils looked rattled or, worse, disinterested in completing against the Wolfpack. There were a lot of unhappy players in the post game locker room and a lot of seemingly bruised egos. Miami’s roster provides a number of challenges for the Blue Devils, but they will be different tests than Duke faced on Sunday afternoon. And Duke seems better equipped to deal with them. Look for the Blue Devils to press early on which could lead to some easy Miami baskets. Eventually the Blue Devils will establish control of the game and earn Coach K’s 998th. The pick…

Duke - 81
Miami - 66

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