Two final shots at completing the miracle, continuing the dream and slaying the giant fell short. Miami must wait another game for its first outright ACC title.
“It’s quite frankly ridiculous,” the Miami coach said.
Kelly’s seven 3s and 10-for-14 shooting was the difference between’s Saturday’s final and the 27-point beating Miami handed the Blue Devils on Jan. 23. But the victory lap was interrupted after No. 3 Duke built a 10-point cushion with 1:55 left.
Twice Miami (23-5, 14-2 ACC) had chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute. First a turnover, then the two missed 3s in the closing ticks. The moments leading up to that were insane.
A panic settled over the 9,314 packed into the hallowed gym. Miami’s shots were falling and Duke’s free-throws weren’t. It was just an almost in a season of incredible endings.
Larkin finished with 25, but needed 28 for overtime.
“I think we did a great job of fighting the whole game,” Larkin said. “In the end, we just didn’t show up.”
The final sequence was preceded by a turnover and miscommunication between Larkin and Brown near the Miami bench. Larranaga said he considered calling his final timeout with 40 seconds left, but kept it stashed in case there was a late-game tie.
Quite frankly, it was a chaotic night college basketball played at its highest level.
Miami will now return home needing one win against Georgia Tech (Wednesday) or Clemson (Saturday) to secure the ACC title outright. It already claimed at least a share and the No. 1 seed in the league tournament.
The gamesmanship began before the tip. Kelly not only returned to action for the first time in nearly two months games, he started. Miami, wearing black for the first time under Larranaga, countered by starting Reggie Johnson for the first time since December.
Johnson, who scored a career-high 27 in UM’s overtime win at Duke last year, fell flat. He went scoreless for the first time since his freshman season and mishandled several passes near the basket.
“I felt like his progress had come far enough along that, it might be a good boost for him and kinda help Julian [Gamble],” Larranaga said. “He’s been killing himself for the last two months. I thought if they reversed roles, it might help both of them. But that didn’t happen.”
Instead, Miami relied on the penetration ability of Larkin, Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott. Kadji went for 17 while Scott had 12 on 6-for-16 shooting. He was more effective in the first half when UM spread out the Duke defense and found gaps in the lane. Miami still outscored Duke 36-26 in the paint, but Kelly killed them from the perimeter.
The lanky 6-foot-11 forward went absolutely berserk in the first half. He had 20 of the Blue Devils’ 36 points, but still Miami led 36-34. The Hurricane lead was seven when he made three of his seven 3s in less than three minutes.
Larranaga said he tried three different defenders on Kelly. He was happy with the way Miami defenders closed out and defended the shots. One of those contested bombs blew away Larranaga.
“I turned to my staff and just said this guy is unconscious,” he said. “I mean it was 30 feet.”
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