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Zombie Duke’ proves no lead is safe in remarable comeback victory at Miami

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Zombie Duke’ proves no lead is safe in remarable comeback victory at Miami

Zombie Duke is the best team in the country.

Zombie Duke is the squad that has near-inexplicable ability to rally from almost any second-half deficit. Duke is fallible; Zombie Duke is fatal. And yet, they’re one in the same. It’s only when you’ve played Duke into a hole that you make yourself vulnerable, that you bring about the darker, desperate, dominant side of Duke.

A double-digit second half lead. A secure sense of impending victory. Then it all slips away.

Zombie Duke slows you down, dunks on your face, then struts off with another win while you’re left to stare at the gaps between your fingers and wonder how all that blood wound up pooling around you.

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils won at No. 25 Miami on Monday night 83-75. They did it by ripping an 18-0 second half run in a four-minute-and-30-second span. They flip-turned upside down all that the Hurricanes (13-4, 2-3) thought they had going for them. Instead of logging a season-best win, Miami is now a team in need of credibility on its NCAA Tournament dossier. The Hurricanes’ outlook took a drastic turn over the course of about 10 minutes of game time.

Miami put itself in position for a statement victory by pulling off a 19-2 run early in the second half to build a 59-46 lead. It was the run that begat Duke’s. At that that point Duke had 19 turnovers and was getting minimal help from Grayson Allen and a below-average night from Marvin Bagley III. (The star freshman finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.) Duke’s defense was typically, laughably Duke-ish, which is to say sub-par. The ‘Canes were capitalizing on straight-line drives to punctuate possessions with powerful dunks and artistic layups.

shooter’s most notable shot was from behind the arc of all things. Left unguarded at the top of the key when Miami sent two defenders at Marvin Bagley, Duval stepped into an open 3-pointer and buried it to extend an 18-0 Duke run and push the Blue Devils’ lead to 71-66 with 3:27 to play.

Neither Bagley (13 points) nor Grayson Allen (5 points) were at their best on Monday night, but both found ways to make an impact. Bagley shook off a first-half shoulder injury and produced a notable 3-point play in the midst of Duke’s run. Allen generated a few extra possessions for the Blue Devils with his hustle and activity on defense.

Duke’s finishing sprint was a reminder that few teams in the country can match the ultra-talented Blue Devils shot for shot when they’re at their best. They spotted a highly motivated, NCAA tournament-bound opponent a double-digit second-half lead, and then erased it in the span of less than three minutes.

Of course the previous 32 minutes were also a reminder that Duke can still look plenty vulnerable away from home. The freshman-laden Blue Devils had 19 turnovers halfway through the second half against Miami’s disruptive, aggressive man-to-man defense. They also missed 8 of their first 12 foul shots and surrendered far too many fast-break points and second-chance opportunities.

Miami lacked discipline at either end of the floor and panicked when the Blue Devils made their run. It also couldn’t have hurt that Duke has experience rallying from double-digit deficits against Texas and Florida earlier this season

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