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Duke 81, Miami 74: Thank God There are TWO Halves in These Games

With about 5 minutes to play  in the first half of tonight’s game, I thought that perhaps I had been sucked through a rift in the space-time continuum and was again sitting in my home in January watching (to my abject horror) the first half Duke v Georgetown. Or was it the second half vs. State? To tell the truth, the horribleness of Duke’s play so addled me, so relentlessly clawed at my unbelieving mind, that I was no longer sure what was happening. But I knew it was bad. Real bad.  Here are some numbers which support my conclusion… er, confusion. Cover your eyes if you are squeamish.

1st Half @ Miami: Scheyer 0-6  2TO , Smith 1-6 3TO, Singler 2-7  Duke shoots 31%  Miami shoots 58%

1st Half @ Georgetown : Scheyer 2-5 3TO, Smith 0-5, Singler 3-7  Duke shoots 34%  Georgetown shoots 75%

2nd Half @ Sate : Scheyer 4-11, Singler 2-6, Smith 2-6    Duke shoots 33%  State shoots 54%

Other than each being road games and almost making my head explode, what all these halves have in common is bad shooting coupled with bad defense, which is kind of like coupling Yoo-Hoo and Sour Cream & Onion potato chips; neither good on its own, but together? The results are indescribably awful. Typically speaking, shooting at least 20 percentage points less than your opponent in a half doesn’t bode well for the game result.

Then there are nights like tonight, where Duke gives a courtesy flush, lights a match, and gets down to a little second half defumigation.

I believe I can sum things up in the following amazingly poorly written sentence: Duke’s good half was  better than it’s bad half was awful. Now, rather than stop there and leave you with a mouthful of chocolate malt and onion powder, let’s breakdown half number two.

  • In the first 9.5 minutes Duke held Miami to 1-6 from the floor and turned them over 7 times. Miami committed 8 fouls and scored 7 points during this stretch. THAT’S how you get back in the game after trailing by 12 at halftime, folks.
  • During that same stretch, Brian Zoubek was an animal. He had 3 steals, 2 offensive boards, drew a charge and had a stickback with a chance for a three point play. An absolute difference maker momentum-wise (the announcers named him player of the game, in fact)
  • Someone thoughtfully returned the Big Three to their respective bodies or corralled their zombie doppelgangers or found the voodoo dolls, or SOMETHING, because they finally put it together in the second half. They hit Miami’s matchup zone (which is pretty tough, BTW) with a ridiculous barrage of 3’s (Scheyer 3-6, Nolan 4-6, Kyle 2-3)
  • Duke allowed Miami to shoot a pretty high percentage for the game (55%) , but negated a lot of that by creating 22 turnovers on 12 steals ( 5 of which were by Z! )
  • Singler had his best all around game of the year, scoring 9 points in the first 3 minutes of the second half, 22 overall ( on 7-16 shooting) with 11 boards and 4 assists.

Other than the 3 point shooting and turnovers created, this wasn’t a very pretty “box score game” for Duke. Coach K commented after the game that we had no “edge” at all in the first half, possibly as the result of a little complacency after the big wins last week. Thankfully, the second half, much like the Carolina game, was a different story and, like a Cheerwine and a Moonpie, left Duke fans with a sweet taste in their mouths.

NB : At one point in the game Coach K had security take a conch shell ( that’s right, a conch shell) away from a fan who was trumpeting through it during Duke free throws. The use of noise making devices is prohibited during game play, otherwise the home team’s band would happily play “Hey, Ya” during every opponent’s free throw. Despite this, Hubert Davis ( who is a decent guy and analyst , but a complete chucklehead) thought it was a  ridiculous thing for Coach K to do to do especially ” if you’re someone who plays in CAMERON”. First of all , Hubert, no one uses noise making devices in Cameron. That’s what the CROWD is for. Being a UNC alum, I know that’s a strange concept for you. And secondly, no one makes noise during DUKE free throws except the few opposing team’s fans, at which point K has them thrown out. Oops! my bad, that’s YOUR team’s coach that does that. how silly of me!