Maybe it’s time to think about a mini crisis at Duke, losing at home to Miami 90-74, breaking some long lasting streaks when it comes to avoiding consecutive big losses and losing at home in general, with the ACC once again proving to be a lot more difficult than what happens outside the conference.
Following the 12-point loss at Raleigh to North Carolina State, Duke had another rough night of not being able to chase down guards doing whatever they want against them. The Hurricanes did have one heck of a shooting day, hitting 50% of their 3-point shots (10-of-20) and 51.8% from the field, but Duke didn’t really make it difficult on their players and especially Angel Rodriguez (24 points) and Manu Lecomte (23 points).
Duke guards simply couldn’t stay ahead of Rodriguez who seemed capable of doing whatever he wants; the pick and rolls completely took the rest of the defense apart and for some reason, almost every time the wing players left their position to help it was ill-timed and left someone open for an easy basket. Miami players also had 12 steals to generate a lot of open court and fast break shots for them. Duke players looked less and less enthusiastic about running back as the lead grew.
I just have felt since Christmas that there’s something missing with our group, and I’ve said it. I’ve said it to the press, I’ve said it to my team. And when you’re still winning, you don’t necessarily believe it completely. But I’ve felt it since Christmas, and I haven’t been able to figure that out, figure out how to change it. We’re all on the same page now, after two losses and after getting our butt beat. We didn’t just lose tonight. We got our butts beat tonight.
Duke’s home winning streak is gone, which was the longest in the nation, beating the last 41 opponents to visit Cameron. Now Gonzaga with 34 consecutive victories at home get to hold the torch for home court dominance. The 16-point loss was the fifth biggest loss at home since Coach K took over. Three of the four bigger losses are at the hand of North Carolina, the last of them in 2011-2012 when the Tar Heels beat them by 18 points.
There were a lot of firsts in this loss, as Duke simply doesn’t lose consecutive games, and especially not by so many points. The last time they lost by 12 points or more in two consecutive games was back in the 1995-1996 season, one in the ACC tournament and then getting knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Eastern Michigan. In the ACC, it has happened to Duke and Krzyzewski since the 1982-1983 season, losing to North Carolina and North Carolina State back to back.
It’s also the first time Duke have lost back to back games against unranked opponents since 2008 (Wake Forest and Miami). These things happen every once in a while but for Duke, they don’t usually happen, and especially not in seasons when they win championships, so this might be a sign that they’re not good enough, at least not yet. Now it’s a matter of finding out whether these losses were the case of opponents having a rare shooting day or is it once again a defense that’s not going to get them very far this season.