Miami Hurricanes Basketball: Key Matchups Vs. Duke Blue Devils


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When the ACC schedule comes out, the first thing the top teams do is circle the date of when they’re scheduled to play the Duke Blue Devils. With the recent success, that now applies to the Miami Hurricanes basketball team.

That circled date is now for the ‘Canes and they’re in for a tough battle against a top-5 ranked Duke team that should be livid coming off their first loss of the season; and for some of those guys, their first loss of their collegiate careers.

The Hurricanes have to play a near perfect game to beat a superior team on the road, but these are some match-ups that Miami needs to control (or try to) in order to have a chance in this one.

Tyus Jones Vs. Angel Rodriguez

The battle of the starting point guards is usually where games are won or lost, and this game is no different. Tyus Jones is a talented freshman point guard who has been up-and-down with his production this season. Jones has stepped up in big games, dropping 22 against Wisconsin, 21 against UCONN and 17 against Michigan State. While he’s looked like a first-round pick in those games, he has struggled a ton in the last four games. Jones is averaging 5 points per game in his last four games, doing so shooting a poor 27% from the floor. The freshman has had some trouble recently and Angel Rodriguez could take advantage of that on both ends of the floor.

While Jones has struggled in his last four games, Rodriguez has not scored less than 15 points in his last four. He had 25 points against Virginia, but it took him 22 shots to get there. He had 17 points against Boston College and had success getting past Olivier Hanlan who is a physical guard. Rodriguez will have to put pressure on Jones defensively, but most importantly, stop Tyus Jones from getting in the lane or he’ll either score a bunch of points or he’ll pass it to his countless talented teammates. It’ll be a point guard battle worth watching.

Jahlil Okafor Vs. Tonye Jekiri

Jahlil Okafor is a monster; He’ll likely be the number one pick in June’s NBA Draft so Tonye Jekiri has his work cut out for him tonight. Okafor is arguably the best player in college basketball and he’s just starting to play his best basketball as a college player. On the season, Okafor is averaging 19 points and 9 rebounds, but in his last five games, Okafor is averaging 22.8 points per game on 75% shooting, and that’s with an average 12-point performance against Wake Forest.

Luckily for Miami, Tonye Jekiri is coming off his best game of the season against Boston College, where Jekiri finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Jekiri dominated a large portion of the BC game and Miami will need that Jekiri every minute Okafor is on the floor for Duke.

It’s not going to be easy, and I’m not expecting Jekiri to win this match-up; but he’ll have to limit Okafor’s production for Miami to have a chance at pulling the upset.

Duke’s Bench Vs. Miami’s Bench

Outside of Rasheed Suliamon — who can carry a team or kill it — the Duke bench doesn’t have much of a scoring threat. Granted, the starters play a ton of minutes for the Blue Devils; and they’re all really good. However, for the Miami Hurricanes to have a chance, they’ll have to get some production from their bench. Whether the production comes from Manu Lecomte or Davon Reed, the Canes need to find a spark off the bench to take some pressure off guys like Deandre Burnett and Sheldon McClellan.

Reed will probably be tasked with guarding Suliamon when they’re on the floor and I like Miami’s chances there. Reed is still getting into his groove and his confidence isn’t quite there yet, but his length could give Suliamon some trouble, and once you get into his head, who knows what will happen. In the Florida win, the Miami Hurricanes had James Palmer step up for them off the bench; who can provide that spark tonight at Cameron Indoor?