A slowly growing stain of blood seeped through the wrap covering Kyle Filipowski’s right knee Saturday as he sat near his locker at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The wound came thanks to one of the many times the Duke freshman ended up on the hardwood against No. 17 Miami, either falling after a defensive collision or jumping after the basketball.
It was a tough game, not for those who like dead-eye shooting, but for those who prefer hard-sided basketball.
“We got down on defense,” Filipowski said after scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds as the Blue Devils beat No. 17 Miami, 68-66. “We kept getting rebounds. Missed balls mattered the most. Those are the key plays, you know, that helped us get this win.”
Filipowski had one of those special moments in the final minute when he hit the deck to seal a loose ball to help Duke (14-5, 5-3 ACC) protect the lead as his poor shot remained vulnerable.
“I thought that was a big point in the game,” Duke coach John Scheier said.
It brought the Cameron Indoor Stadium to its feet – the 500th consecutive sellout since 1990. That energized Scheyer and the Blue Devils bench.
It meant everything because, well, it really should.
The power of its legendary home court atmosphere has perhaps never been more important to Duke than this season.
Because this isn’t the Blue Devils of old, capable of beating opponents with lightning-fast 11-2 runs in the blink of an eye. Instead, this season, hustling games mean everything.
Dropped balls must become Duke property. More often than not, Duke’s missed shots should be offset by capable rebounding.
Saturday’s meat grinder win over Miami was a prime example of why that’s true.
As has been the case regularly this season, the Blue Devils had to overcome their inability to make enough open jump shots. Duke didn’t make a field goal in the final five minutes, 17 seconds.
However, in that time, the Blue Devils have never relinquished a lead against an experienced, accomplished Miami team that has a legitimate chance to win the ACC Championship.
Instead of wilting like the Blue Devils did after blowing an eight-point second-half lead in a 72-64 loss a week earlier at Clemson, they made the late defensive stops they needed regularly to beat the Hurricanes ” (15-4, 6). -3)
In a way, Scheyer said, the Blue Devils remembered who they were.
“We talked a lot about turnovers and rebounds,” Schaer said. “Coming off the Clemson game, I thought they outplayed us. To me, that’s what our program is about, you know, making these little plays.”
Duke secured six more rebounds than Miami. The Blue Devils grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, turning them into 16 second-chance points.
By contrast, Duke had zero points on the fast break and Miami scored 11 in transition.
These stats represent this edition of the Blue Devils and show why they are so good at Cameron, where they are 10-0 this season.
The last time Duke played at home before Saturday, the team overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to beat Pittsburgh 77-69.
By holding off Miami, the Blue Devils picked up an important win over a ranked opponent.
This, by the way, was the rare instance of Duke being unranked playing a ranked team. It’s only happened 89 times in program history, but the Blue Devils are now 49-40 in that situation.
But in the last two home games, Duke has needed the kind of back-to-back plays that leave bruises and open cuts on knees and elbows to win.
“Those are usually the areas where we win the most when we play against older teams,” Duke freshman Darrick Whitehead said. “They beat us 50-50 balls and beat us. I felt we beat them today. We have another good one on Monday at Virginia Tech, so we have to make sure we do it again.”
The young man is 100% right. Duke’s fast-paced game Monday night at Virginia Tech gives the Blue Devils a chance to change perceptions.
Although Duke was at home, it had already suffered ACC road losses to Wake Forest, NC State and Clemson.
The Blue Devils need to find that extra energy to provide turnovers, rebounds and the like when the crowd is 100% against them.
The Hokies, who beat Duke in the ACC Championship Game last March, are getting their next shot.
Duke basketball defeats the Miami Hurricanes in a flurry of games
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