CORAL GABLES, Fla. – After missing 11 first-half minutes with foul trouble and a minor eye injury, ACC leading scorer Nolan Smith rocked Miami with a second-half scoring flurry as No. 5-ranked Duke won 81-71 on Sunday night at BankUnited Center.
Sophomore guard Seth Curry did a fine job running the Blue Devils in the first half as Smith was held to two points. Curry, who scored 22 points in a win Wednesday over North Carolina, hit for 13 of his 16 points in the first half against the Hurricanes and added three steals to lift Duke to a 42-37 halftime lead.
Miami center Reggie Johnson scored six points in the opening four minutes of the second half, though. Consecutive 3-pointers by Apex native Garrius Adams and Adrian Thomas cut the deficit to 52-51 with 14:03 remaining.
That’s when Smith, who didn’t make his first field goal until the game’s 25th minute, stepped on the gas. He drove the lane for a one-handed score.
He swished a 3-pointer from the wing in front of the Duke bench. After a Durand Scott turnover, Smith rushed down the floor for a fast-break layup. That gave him seven points in 67 seconds and extended the Blue Devils’ lead to 61-51.
Miami coach Frank Haith called timeout, but it was too late. Smith had done his damage and would do more. He finished with 18 points – 16 in the second half - as the Blue Devils (23-2, 10-1 ACC) earned a big win on the road despite their lead guard’s first-half troubles.
The Hurricanes (15-11, 4-7) had played an ACC-record eight straight games that were decided by four points or fewer. This time, though, it wasn’t going to be that close.
While Smith was limited in the first half, Curry ran the team skillfully. He made three 3-pointers, an 18-foot jumper on an inbounds play and two free throws.
His 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining in the half – which came on a second-shot opportunity after he missed two free throws – gave Duke a 40-37 lead that it never relinquished.