But the Hurricanes stuck to business in posting a 65-49 victory over the Hokies and will go into their game at Florida State on a five-game winning streak, their longest ever in league play since joining the ACC for the 2004-05 season.
The Hurricanes, who improved to 15-7 with the win over the Hokies, are off to their best start ever in ACC play with a 6-3 league mark.
They will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak in the series with the Seminoles, who are 7-2 in the conference and 16-7 in all games after their loss earlier this week at Boston College.
"Last year I think I started off with a good first half," junior center Reggie Johnson said when asked about the prospect of facing FSU's relentless defense. "The second half they just turned it up.
"They didn't let me touch the ball that much and pressure our guards a lot and got a lot of fast-break layups. So I expect the same thing.
"We've got to stay poised down the stretch and play better."
--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:
--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.
ON THE SPOT -- Senior G Malcolm Grant has been struggling with a shooting slump that has seen him go just 5-of-30 from behind the three-point arc over a four-game span. He has been 0-of-5 in each of the last two games (Duke and Virginia Tech) and missed his last 14 3-point attempts in a row. He and G Durand Scott, who are the Hurricanes' top two scorers, combined for only six points in the win over Virginia Tech. "We need to do a better job of getting them good shot opportunities," coach Jim Larranaga said. "Those two guys are our leading scorers and are very hard guys to guard. But the last couple of games, we haven't gotten them as many good looks as we need to."
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 C Reggie Johnson scored only four points in the first half against Virginia Tech on Feb. 9 with his only field goal coming on one of his two 3-point tries. But when the Hokies went mostly zone in the second half and gave up the double and triple teams they had been throwing at him, Johnson found his way for 11 points in the second half to finish with a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds. Since scoring just eight points in the win at Georgia Tech on Jan. 24, Johnson has averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds over a four-span.
--Sophomore G Rion Brown scored only eight points, but his dunk follow at the buzzer at the end of the first half ended a 10-0 Hokies run and gave Miami a more comfortable eight-point cushion at the break. "He ended up going 3-for-3 and eight points," coach Jim Larranaga said. "And if we had played him 30-some minutes, he probably would have had 20. The reason I say that is he has been practicing great." Brown did his damage in just 18 minutes. He also had a rebound and a steal.
--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.