Duke continues to grow with the latest redemption game

The Blue Devils atoned for the loss in Miami, staying ahead of the Hurricanes in the semifinals of the ACC tournament

Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, right, tackles Miami’s Anthony Walker during Friday night’s ACC Tournament game. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports Images)

GREENSBORO – The players-only meeting Duke held after a loss in Miami a month ago brought some harsh truths to light.

One of them was how much disrespect there was for the Blue Devils – and not just from the wasteland of social media.

“Just from the teams we’ve played,” the freshman Kyle Filipowski He said. “After some losses, teams were saying, ‘We’re not shit.’ And I mean, we really took it personally.

“We got together and said enough is enough. We realized how good we can be.”

That’s knowing the Blue Devils are one win away from the ACC Championship.

The Blue Devils’ redemption tour continued with their 85-78 victory over then-No. 14 Miami in the ACC Tournament semifinals Friday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Fourth-seeded Duke (25-8) will face off Virginiawinner 76-56 vs Clemson in the late game on Friday, in the championship game on Saturday night. It’s another chapter of a redemption tour, with the only meeting between those two Blue Devils overtime losses in which the ACC acknowledged Filipowski should have shot free throws at the end of regulation.

First things first: Duke’s exorcism of some demons.

“Obviously we beat them in the regular season, but I think even when we beat them we didn’t play our best,” the freshman Mark Mitchell He said. “Tonight we just wanted to come out here and do it.”

It was a full-circle moment for a Duke team that was blown off the floor in an 81-59 game at Miami on Feb. 6. The Blue Devils made it clear Thursday that they have extra motivation to pay the Hurricanes for a game in which they were “punked,” per Derek Lively II and Mitchell.

And it was a game that lived up to its billing as a matchup between two of the most interesting teams in the ACC; one between the two teams most likely to make it big in the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought it was a high level of play that we played,” the Duke coach Jon Scheyer He said. “I thought for us, we actually came out and threw some mowers at them and gave them a great shot. To them, they are just so persistent. They keep coming to you.”

Duke's Dereck Lively II, left, goes up against Miami's Isaiah Wong on Friday night.

Duke’s Dereck Lively II, left, goes up against Miami’s Isaiah Wong on Friday night. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports Images)

The proof of that — and Duke’s maturity — was best shown here: Duke led the entire second half, but Miami (25-7) cut the deficit to 2 or 3 points on 11 occasions.

After Duke’s 11 ensuing possessions, the Blue Devils score 21 points — leaving just two possessions empty, and getting those contributions from six players in a balanced response.

“It definitely saps their energy,” Lively said of Duke’s high-speed offense. “(Having to) guard someone who keeps attacking you every possession is going to kill you.”

The sequence that allowed Duke to cruise across the finish line was not one of those examples.

Duke led 75-71 when Jeremy Roach took a dribble and rose from the left wing for a dagger three-pointer with 1:31 left.

“The last 3 I shot, it felt good so I was really trying to get another 3 because I knew the next one was probably going to go in,” Roach said.

Duke didn’t make the 11 3-pointers it did Thursday, but the percentage was better as the Blue Devils went 8-for-16. Part of the logic was that the Blue Devils wanted to take advantage of the size matchup with Filipowski and Mitchell; in part because Miami’s only true rim protector exited the game after 66 seconds.

Norchad Omier deflected a missed free throw and sprained his right ankle. A potential return to the game was quickly dismissed on Miami’s official Twitter account.

That didn’t change Duke’s plan of attack, guard Tyrese Proctor he said, but Filipowski noticed the effect it had on Miami.

“I think it definitely took the edge off them, for sure,” Filipowski said. “That was a little disheartening. Obviously it doesn’t matter to him, I gave him my support after the game. But we looked at it as an advantage throughout the game, attacking the paint and attacking the glass.”

The first half was so free-flowing that the 8-and-under timeout was skipped, as the teams played until 3:41 before Scheyer’s timeout when Miami took a 32-31 lead. There had been nine lead changes and four turnovers to that point — which was consistent with the game these teams played in Durham earlier this season, not the loss to Miami later in the season.

Duke finished the first half well after Scheyer’s timeout. The Blue Devils scored on four of their last five possessions, the last of which was a Dariq Whitehead missed three, denied by Filipowski, returned to Whitehead for a corner 3.

Whitehead scored 16 points, including three free throws twice when he was fouled on a long shot. That’s his most points since his season-high 18 against Boston College on Jan. 7; averaged five points in Duke’s last five games, making 4 of 12 3-pointers.

“If Dariq can play like that, I don’t think anybody can beat us,” Mitchell said. “When we’re clicking on all cylinders, it’s scary.”

It’s both terrifying and exciting for a Blue Devils team who are peaking at the right time.

TIPS: Duke will be making its 35th appearance in the ACC Championship, and this is the 70th season of ACC basketball. The Blue Devils played in more than half of them because the 2020 tournament was canceled. … Mitchell scored 14 points, his sixth straight game in double figures and improved Duke’s record to 15-1 when scoring at least 10 points. … Filipowski’s 17-point, 11-rebound game is his 15th double-double of the season, and it comes after his first game without a rebound. … During Duke’s eight-game winning streak, the Blue Devils are averaging 77.4 points, shooting 49.9% from the field, 36.9% on 3-pointers and 79.2% on free throws.

Duke's Jeremy Roach tackles Miami's Harlond Beverly during Friday night's game.

Duke’s Jeremy Roach tackles Miami’s Harlond Beverly during Friday night’s game. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports Images)


Here’s a quick preview of Saturday night’s ACC championship game:

Time: 20:30 hours

Place: Greensboro Coliseum.


Announcers: Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Jay Bilas (analyst).

Series; last meeting: Duke leads 123-54; Virginia won 69-62 in overtime on Feb. 11, the last time Duke lost.

Write down: Duke 25-8; Virginia 25-6.

Statistics to watch: 22.

That’s the most turnovers Duke committed at Virginia, a season high.

Since then, Duke has turned the ball over 75 times in eight games.

Cavalier to watch: Wing I feel sorry for Franklin (No. 4).

Franklin’s last 20-point game came against Duke, when he scored 23 against the Blue Devils. It’s coming off a 16-point game against Clemson.

Blue Devil to watch: Forward Kyle Filipowski (No. 30).

Don’t overthink this.

The only game of the season without goals was played by Filipowski against Virginia. He threw 16 of 19 shots in two games in Greensboro, filling in through a sprained left ankle early in Duke’s win over Pitt.

KenPom Prediction: Duke wins 63-62.

Devils Illustrated forecast: It boggles my mind that Duke is doomed, given how well things have gone for this team over the last four weeks.

At the same time, that thinking comes from watching this team through the first three months of the season. Then every time it looked like the Blue Devils had turned a corner, they would falter.

Lively gave the best reason why there might not be a stumble in this game either.

“We feel like every one of the teams here really haven’t seen the real us, you know?” He said. “What we were at the beginning of the season, in the middle of the season and at the end of the season are three completely different teams.”

The latter is playing at a high enough level that you think the Blue Devils can beat anyone.

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