The Hurricanes put themselves very much in the postseason picture by gutting out a 78-74 overtime win over Duke, a signature win if there ever was one.
Adding to the win: The game was at Durham.
"To come in here and play with the kind of poise that we did, and play the kind of defense we did, especially in the first half and in the overtime, was something that we can be very, very proud of," coach Jim Larranaga said.
Larranaga has been battling a flu bug that kept him away from practice in the two days leading up to the game, and he credited his assistants for setting up the game plan at both ends of the court.
"And the players executed it beautifully throughout the game," Larranaga said. "I'm very, very proud of the win and the way things materialized."
The Hurricanes had to stave off a Duke rally in the second half. After bumping up a 14-point halftime lead to 16 just four minutes into the second half, the Hurricanes saw the Blue Devils not only eat all of that up but actually take the lead twice late in regulation.
But they had enough to answer in the overtime, which they led all the way.
The victory boosts the Hurricanes to 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the ACC with three home games coming up in their next four outings.
They are host to Virginia Tech, go to Florida State, and then entertain North Carolina and Wake Forest over the next two weeks.
--Junior C Reggie Johnson was the big man, literally and figuratively, for Miami in the victory at Duke. The 6-foot-11, 284-pounder muscled his way to a career-high 27 points and added a dozen rebounds as the Blue Devils simply found themselves without an answer to stop him. He even had a steal and didn't have a turnover.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski opened his post-game press conference by calling Johnson "spectacular."
"We played outstanding defense on Johnson at the end of regulation," he said. "It was just brute strength to score a couple of those. It wasn't bad defense. He just made some big plays."
--Junior G Durand Scott struggled from the field, going only 3 of 12, and he had four turnovers, but he still was a key in Miami's win over Duke. Scott was 5 of 6 at the free-throw line and, along with freshman Shane Larkin, did a major share of the ballhandling in Miami's half-court sets.
Scott wound up with 11 points, his third straight game in double figures, and also had two steals, giving him 12 over his last six games.
--The win over the Blue Devils marked Miami's second over Duke since joining the ACC in the 2004-05 season. The first came in Coral Gables on Feb. 20, 2008. This was Miami's first win over the Blue Devils in Durham.
BY THE NUMBERS: 38.2 -- Miami's defense helped hold Duke to just 26 of 68 field-goal attempts (38.2 percent).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's big, man. Real big. Growing up here, I know about Duke, I know about North Carolina, I know about N.C. State. To come in and get a win over Duke is real big-time." -- junior C Reggie Johnson, who is from Winston-Salem, after Miami's win over Duke.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 9
KEY MATCHUPS: Sophomore G/F Jarell Eddie is coming off a 15-point game in the win over Clemson, but junior G Erick Green is Tech's leading scorer (15.7 per game through Feb. 4). Senior G Dorenzo Hudson also is a double-figure regular.
--at Florida State, Feb. 11
KEY MATCHUPS: Florida State is known for its tough defense under coach Leonard Hamilton, but the Seminoles have picked up their offensive pace this season. G Michael Snaer leads the 'Noles in scoring, and G Ian Miller has been a nice addition since his return from an early-season suspension.
FUTURES MARKET: The Hurricanes have the opportunity to make a move up in the standings, with three of their next four games at home. The game against North Carolina on Feb. 15 in Coral Gables offers the opportunity for a victory that would really enhance their postseason resume.
--Junior F Kenny Kadji was back in the starting lineup at Duke after sitting out the win over Maryland with a head injury. Kadji had 15 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes at Duke before fouling out.
--Senior F DeQuan Jones had some nice numbers against Duke. In 23 minutes off the bench, he had nine points on 3-of-5 shooting and snared eight rebounds. He was 3 of 4 from the free-throw line, canning both of his chances with 12.9 seconds left to give Miami a three-point cushion.