"Unconscious" was the word Miami head coach Jim Larranaga used to describe Duke's Ryan Kelly, who scored a career-high 36 points in Duke's win. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
DURHAM—Excuse the delay, folks—I'm been working on a story for senior day—but, if you missed any of it, here are a few links to our postgame coverage of Duke's 79-76 win over Miami
• The main game story, which focuses on the incredible performance of Ryan Kelly, who posed a career-high 36 points coming off of his right foot injury, limiting him to a grand total of 20 minutes before taking the floor.
• In the immediate aftermath of the game, the Blue Devils were dreaming big about what Kelly's return means for their potential.
• And from Andrew Carter, a closer look at just how close Miami came in the closing seconds.
And here's one more thought:
There were times, Ryan Kelly said after the game, that he doubted he would return from the foot injury that had sidelined him since Jan. 8. But he worked diligently with Duke trainers Jose Fonseca and Nicholas Potter, maintaing cardiovascular shape by running on an underwater treadmill. Kelly also focused on strengthening the rest of his body so that when his foot was finally ready, the rest of him would be, too.
Mike Krzyzewski's postgame press conference focused solely on Kelly's performance and what it his return meant for the team going forward. On Saturday, Kelly truly was the difference maker.
If it looked like Miami drove into the paint at will, especially early, it's because the Hurricanes did. And if it seemed like they were dominating the boards, it's because the were. That's what happened in Coral Gables, and Duke got beat in perhaps the most embarrassing fashion possible.
Consider the following numbers from the two times Duke played the Hurricanes this regular season:
*Note that were were 78 possessions in the first game and 68 in the second. Scoring uncontested layup after layup takes much less time off a game clock.
Miami Points in the Paint
Miami 90-63: 38
Duke 79-76: 36
Miami offensive rebounding percentage
Miami 90-63: 24.2 percent
Duke 79-76: 36.1 percent (and do note that Ryan Kelly led Duke with seven rebound)
Miami second-chance points
Miami 90-63: 10
Duke 79-76: 20
Miami offensive efficiency
Miami 90-63: 115.4
Duke 79-76: 111.8
So Duke's defense wasn't really any better, but instead of losing by 27, the Blue Devils won by three, a 30-point swing (for those that don't do simple math).
The difference in the two games was in Duke's offense performance. Instead of shooting a season-low 30.1 percent from the floor and 17.4 percent from 3-point range, the Blue Devils shot 52 percent from the floor and 47.8 percent from deep in the rematch.
Factor Kelly out of those stats from Saturday, and the Blue Devils shot 44.4 percent from the field and just 28.6 percent from 3-point range.
When Duke trailed 36-34 at halftime, Kelly has 20 points and no other Blue Devil had more than four. And it was a 3-pointer from Kelly that gave Duke the lead for good with 9:13 to go in the game.
It's hard to say that one person was the reason a team won. But the numbers from Saturday make a pretty convincing case for that.
"I mean, he's a big difference," Mason Plumlee said of Kelly. "Hell, he had 36 points."