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What does Wednesday’s blowout loss mean for No. 1 Duke?

Jan 23, 2013, 10:25 PM EDT

Duke v Miami Getty Images

No. 1 Duke lost tonight at No. 25 Miami.

That much isn’t a surprise. Miami got Reggie Johnson back tonight, and Duke is still playing without Ryan Kelly. The Hurricanes are the second best team in the ACC. They probably should be beating a banged-up Duke team at home.

But they shouldn’t be embarrassing the Blue Devils, which is precisely what happened on Wednesday night.

Duke, who is now 16-2 and 3-2 in the ACC, lost by 27 points, 90-63. But that final score doesn’t do justice the magnitude of the beatdown that Miami doled out. Miami was down 14-13 at one point in the first half. A tip-in by Mason Plumlee before the halftime buzzer made it 42-19 Hurricanes. Miami would push that lead to 49-19. That’s a 36-5 run for those scoring at home.

In simpler terms, Miami did this to Duke.

Even Dick Vitale called it an embarrassment, and every knows how much he loves Duke.

We went through this last season when North Carolina lost by 33 at Florida State as the No. 3 team in the country. Only six teams that have won the national title have lost by more than 20 points in the season they won the title. Only one of those six teams — UCLA in 1965 — lost by an many as 27 points. Only two teams ever ranked No. 1 in the country — St. John’s in 1951 and Houston in 1968 — have lost by more than 27 points.

But there’s a difference here: Duke is without Ryan Kelly, who is such an integral piece to that team. He’s a 6-foot-11 power forward that shoots over 50% from three and can guard multiple positions. Not only does he help create the spacing that the Blue Devils need for Mason Plumlee inside and Quinn Cook’s penetration, he takes away that spacing defensively with his ability to defend on the perimeter and block shots.

His value was evident when Duke lost to NC State.

But this?

This was more than just Ryan Kelly. The Blue Devils didn’t have a prayer of slowing down Shane Larkin or Durand Scott tonight. They made Kenny Kadji look like a lottery pick. Seth Curry looked like a 40 year old down at the YMCA, shooting 0-10 from the floor and playing like that leg injury is a bigger deal than he’s letting on. And he wasn’t the only back court member that looked lost. Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton combined to shoot 1-19 from the field.

When your three guards go 1-29 from the floor and allow the players they are guarding to combine for 43 points and nine assists on 17-28 shooting, you are going to lose.

Every time.

But the biggest concern was that Duke simply didn’t have it in them to punch back when Miami started raining haymakers. There was no one on the team willing to step up and stop the run. They didn’t play when pride. Throw in every sports cliche you want here, because they’re all true.

That’s not always going to happen, and the Blue Devils are clearly not as bad as they looked on Tuesday, but the one thing that is clear is that they look a lot more like the team that lost to Lehigh right now than the team that won the Battle 4 Atlantis.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. tampajoey - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    It means Michigan will be #1. Go Blue.

    • bobdevo - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      More likely Kansas.

      • tampajoey - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:10 PM

        With their cream-puff schedule? Not hardly.

    • xli2006 - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      Mich better keep an eye on an Illinois team on the brink this Sunday.

      While Mich will be heavily favored against them, the Illini are on the ropes and could be scrappy.

      If not… bring that #1 rank down to Bloomington with a College Gameday Crowd welcoming you and see if that rank holds.

  2. myopinionisrighterthanyours - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s national broadcast of UM’s layup line practice. What time does the game start?

  3. noring4youstill - Jan 23, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    The U is back. Well in basketball.

  4. sysi45 - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    What difference does it make. No team in the ACC will beat Duke. The ACC has not been any good for years. The only team that does anything is Duke and North Carolina. Duke will win 25 games and the ACC title and get a #1 seed. So what else is new.

    • myopinionisrighterthanyours - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:23 AM

      Last I checked, the U IS in the ACC, and has a 2 game lead on everyone.

    • xli2006 - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Did this guy completely miss the 30 pt beatdown by Miami last night?

      Or the loss to NC State giving them 2 conf losses in 4 games.

      WiFi access must be down in the cave he’s in.

  5. packhawk04 - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:30 AM

    Thankfully for duke, they dont play in the.big ten. Theyd be a 10-8 big ten team.

  6. beaverdam21 - Jan 24, 2013 at 3:41 AM

    UNC can lose by 30 but if Duke loses it’s still not a bad day.

  7. beelza - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:54 AM

    Duke will launch the greatest media relations damage control effort in it’s history. Here’s what they will say: Duke gave Miami the win. Duke, we beat ourselves. Miami had nothing to do with their own win. Duke did not lose, they ran out of time. They will not discuss the Ryan saga. We are still the world’s best team.

  8. baredon - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    It’s not time for the Big Dance… so this is just practice… Don’t mean a thing except to the sports writers…

  9. florida727 - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Not sure what this loss says about Duke, but I do know what it says about college basketball: that whole “on any given night…” thing. It’s going to make for a heck of a month of March. What I think will be interesting to see is if the Big Ten in basketball ends up like the SEC in football… they beat the you-know-what out of each other all season long to the detriment of their performance in the tournament. I’m a Florida and SEC fan, but hands-down (IMO) the Big Ten is the conference everyone has to beat if they want to go to the Final Four this year.

    • firstcauseproject - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      I think you’re right. I can remember past Madness tourneys where some Big East and ACC teams (when those conferences were having whopper years) sometimes seemed worn out by the time they got to the tournament…that’s actually what makes UConn’s run so impressive, bc they went through a total bloodbath of a Big East tourney and still went all the way. Kemba Walker is up there with Jerry McNamara and only a handful of other folks in recent memory, as far as Big East postseason heroes! Anyway, I think what you’re saying might actually apply more to the Big Ten than it has to other conferences; when the Big Ten is broadly balanced and good, given their style of play is so physically punishing, it’s hard to imagine a team coming through five games of that and not hitting a wall if they’re in a tough Madness bracket. I know this was a bit of a meandering reply, but the long & short is, I agree :)

  10. southbeachtalent - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    lay-up, after lay-up, after lay-up, after lay-up, after lay-up!!!

    Dickie V. rules.

  11. gopherz - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    the DUKIES are done;

  12. beaverdam21 - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    Son, that’s Dookies

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