"What a win," Head Coach Frank Haith said. "What a hell of a game. It was a great college basketball game."
Miami was fired up when they took the court against the visiting Blue Devils and it showed. Both teams played with tremendous intensity early on but it may have been a bit too much.
"I thought both teams were tight," Haith said. "They turned it over and we turned it over. It was a high level game. The speed of the game was quick. There were a lot of loose balls both ways. I think both teams were excited about playing and early in the ball game there were some turnovers because of that."
Miami was especially dominant in the paint outscoring the Blue Devils 20 to 8 in the half. A big part of that success in the paint came from Dwayne Collins. His 12 first half points on 6 of 7 shooting were essential to Miami's win. His powerful dunks brought he crowd to their feet and seemed to give the Canes a lift as well.
"He was outstanding," Haith said. "He was aggressive. He was attacking the rim. That's the post presence we've been wanting."
Collins was not the only sharpshooting Hurricane in the first half. Junior swingman Brian Asbury had 12 first half points on 4 of 6 shooting while freshman point guard Eddie Rios made two three-pointers in 9 minutes of play .
"We had a lot of guys make plays," Haith said. "Guys in the first half like Eddie Rios and Anthony King, who didn't play much in the second half, were big for us in the first half."
The Canes shot 54.8% from the field in the first half on their way to a 41-36 lead but Coach Frank Haith made sure to keep the team on their toes at halftime.
"We played a great half," Haith said. "We knew the first five minutes of the second half was going to be key. We told our guys this. ‘They're going to make a run. If we get a lead or we get behind just stay with it.' You knew this was going to be that kind of ball game where they got back in the ball game."
Miami led by as many as 20 points in the second half but the Blue Devils fought back to within four points with a 1:29 left to play. The Hurricanes could have folded but junior guard Jack McClinton wouldn't let them.
"We know basketball is a game of runs and we've seen Duke down and they come back," McClinton said. "They came back so fast. We stayed together. We stayed positive. We never put our heads down and we kept pushing. We kept pushing and we got the victory."
McClinton finished with 22 points including some big free throws down the stretch. He also dished out four assists and pulled down three rebounds on his way to fulfilling a pre-game prediction.
"I was thinking about the game all night," McClinton said. "I had a feeling. Something was inside of me. I felt good about our team. In our practices before this game everybody was focused. Sometimes we go through walk through, and no one talks but today everyone was talking and everyone was positive. I just felt something great was going to happen and it happened today."
Dwayne Collins wreaked havoc on Duke's big men all night. He powered his way in the paint to score 26 points and collect seven rebounds in 29 minutes. The sophomore forward wreaked havoc on Duke's big men. His powerful inside presence led to a superb 12 of 14 shooting performance that was too much for the Blue Devils to handle.
"He was outstanding" Haith said. "Dwayne was terrific. He played like I think Dwayne is capable of playing. He was ready to play. He was good in walk through. He tweaked his ankle and didn't play much against Georgia Tech. it doesn't look like he had a bad ankle tonight."
A crowd of 6,670 witnessed the biggest home win in recent history and Coach Haith feels they were a big factor in the team's success.
"The atmosphere in the arena was special. We want to have the same kind of atmosphere on Saturday. There's no question that the fans were a big part of our win. Their encouragement and their staying with us. It was no question that it helped us."
While most programs coming off a 12-20 season would be content with an improvement to 18-7 and a win over a power like Duke, Miami is not ready to mail in the season just yet.
"It's a special win," Haith said. "You have a top-five team come on your court. The atmosphere we had out there tonight was terrific. It was special to see that. It's special for the guys that are here now to have that feeling but we can't stop. We're still trying to build a resume to make the NCAA tournament. There's no question this helps. We've got another big one on Saturday."