NIT is likely

A favorable schedule down the stretch is coming too late to salvage anything for Miami in the postseason but a likely return to the NIT.

The Hurricanes, who played six of their first nine ACC games on the road and lost them all, began a stretch of three consecutive home games with a loss to Duke.

That dropped them to 3-9 in the conference and erased the final, slim hope for a break-even season in ACC play.

They are 17-9 overall, however, and likely will earn an second-consecutive NIT berth assuming they can finish strong at home.

Of their remaining four games in the regular season, three are at Coral Gables, including their next two.

They are 3-2 at home in the league with wins over Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech, all teams fighting for spots in the top four of the ACC standings.

The Hurricanes will have six days between games when they are host to Virginia on Feb. 23, and they entertain North Carolina State at home on Feb. 27.

After a trip to North Carolina for their final road test, they finish the regular season at home against Florida State.

If they can hold serve at home, they would have 20 wins going into the ACC Tournament, which considering their losing league record won't get them NCAA consideration but should earn them a spot in the NIT field.

DUKE 81, MIAMI 74: Miami's 12-point halftime lead didn't last long as the Blue Devils came out firing after the break, outscoring the Hurricanes 14-2 and forcing five turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half.

The Hurricanes got a jumper from DeQuan Jones to retake the lead, but Duke's Kyle Singler countered with a three-pointer coming out of the first media timeout for the Blue Devils' first lead (42-41) since the 17:55 mark of the first half.

The game was tied for the final time at 42-42, but Duke ran off the next five points to take the lead for good.

After falling behind by eight points at 54-46, Miami made one serious run at the Blue Devils, closing to within one point twice at 56-55 and 58-57.

But Scheyer hit another three-pointer with 5:30 left to stretch Duke's margin to 61-57, and the Blue Devils stretched their lead to 10 points over the next two-plus minutes.

Miami had no complaints with its shooting. The Hurricanes had the same number of field goals (25) as the Blue Devils and in 15 fewer shots (45-60). But 13 of Duke's baskets were three-pointers to only four treys (12 attempts) by Miami.

The Hurricanes also did themselves in with turnovers. They finished with 22 to Duke's 15 after making 12 miscues in the second half, including two when they had a chance to take the lead or tie the game with a two-pointer.


--F Dwayne Collins just missed a double-double after grabbing nine rebounds to go with his 21 points. A 58-percent free throw shooter coming into the game, he was 11-of-14 from the stripe.

--G Durand Scott matched his season-high in field goals in going 9-of-13 from the field against Duke. He scored 19 points, his biggest output since a 20-point effort against Minnesota back on Dec. 2.

--G James Dews had only three points in the first half but finished with 16 after going 4-of-9 from the field after the break. He had scored only 15 points in the previous two games combined.

ON THE SPOT: Taking care of the basketball obviously has to be a priority for the Hurricanes. They have had at least 20 turnovers twice over their last six games and despite making only 12 in their win over Georgia Tech, they are averaging nearly 17 giveaways a game over that span. Scott and Dews combined for seven turnovers in the backcourt and Collins had five up front against Duke.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We did a nice job, shot 52 percent, and I thought we had great effort and competed. But it is just hard to win on the road." -- Coach Frank Haith, after the Hurricanes went 26 of 50 from the field in the loss at Clemson.

SEASON RECAP: The Hurricanes have lost six in a row on the road and fallen to 3-8 in ACC play with the loss at Clemson. They have been home for only four of their first 11 road games and have won their last two in Coral Gables (Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech). The Hurricanes were 17-8 overall through Feb. 13.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Dwayne Collins, C Julian Gamble, G Durand Scott, G Garrius Adams, G James Dews. Key Subs -- F Cyrus McGown, F DeQuan Jones, F Adrian Thomas, C Reggie Johnson, G Malcolm Grant.

GAME REVIEW: Florida State 71, Miami 65
Miami 64, Georgia Tech 62
Clemson 74, Miami 66
Duke 81, Miami 74

GAME PREVIEW: vs. Virginia, Tuesday, Feb. 23
vs. North Carolina State, Saturday, Feb. 27
at North Carolina, Tuesday, March 2
vs. Florida State, Saturday, March 6

IN FOCUS: Miami beat Duke two years ago in Coral Gables, a win that helped propel the Hurricanes into the NCAA Tournament. There was no repeat this season, and now Miami -- at 17-9 entering the weekend and 3-9 in the ACC -- needs a miracle to make the Big Dance. They have three home games remaining and hold some hope of finishing with a better-than-.500 record in the ACC with a run in the postseason tournament.


--G Malcolm Grant kept Miami in the game in the second half against Clemson, scoring all of his team-high 13 points after the intermission.

--F DeQuan Jones, a former starter, came off the bench and played 13 minutes against Clemson after sitting out the entire win over Georgia Tech. He made both of his field goal attempts for four points and also had a rebound and two assists.

--G James Dews had to leave the game after getting a poke in the eye early in the second half, but he returned after a couple of minutes to recover and was 4-of-8 from the field on his way to nine points before fouling out with 6:21 left.

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