DURHAM, N.C. --- Mike Krzyzewski has warned his team about taking things for granted, but apparently that message isn't getting through.
Duke has been excellent winning its last two road games at Maryland and Virginia Tech, performances Krzyzewski described as its most "mature" of the season. But at home, Duke has been a different team, especially of late.
"I think maybe we take for granted that we're going to win at home," junior wing Andre Dawkins said after the Devils lost at home Sunday to Miami 78-74 in overtime. "For the last two years, we didn't lose here, so maybe it's the mindset that on the road we know it's going to be a hostile environment and you have to be road sharp. At home, we just take for granted that our fans are behind us."
Duke went 35-0 at home over the previous two seasons and won its first 10 contests in the friendly confines this year before falling to Florida State three weeks ago. Among the wins, though, were down-to-the-last-shot affairs versus Belmont and Virginia, and in recent weeks some other uninspiring victories.
"We really haven't played well at home," junior center Mason Plumlee said. "I don't know what it is. It's not like a Duke team. We have to be the same team whether we're on the road or at home."
Miami used a 17-2 run in the first half to lead 42-28 at the intermission and led by 16 several minutes into the second half because the Hurricanes attacked the Devils, were more invested in what was taking place on the floor, and because they were just better.
It's that invested part that really shined through when Miami's 6-foot-10, 284-pound lumberer Reggie Johnson beat everyone down the court for a fast-break layup to give Miami a 48-32 lead. There's no way on earth that Johnson is faster than anyone on Duke's bench, including a few assistant coaches.
But he beat the Devils (19-4, 6-2 ACC) down the court because he wanted to and Duke simply wasn't dialed in.
"I don't have an explanation for that," Duke junior forward Ryan Kelly said. "It's kind of sad, and we need to give our fans more than that, and we need to give ourselves more than that."
Miami (14-7, 5-3) grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, scoring 22 second-chance points, and the Hurricanes did a nice job of disrupting many of Duke's sets. Soft screens, softer cuts, and listless focus by the home team helped the Canes' cause, too.
Playing basketball at Duke and going through a season with the degree of success that usually accompanies that ride requires a level of focus rarely associated with most other programs. But part of that deal is to never get complacent, to never take the foot off the pedal, and to recognize there is a standard to uphold.
But this Duke team doesn't regularly exhibit Laettner-esque passion and intensity. When it comes, it's usually in waves, especially at home. When told some of the players suggested they take playing at home for granted, the anger in Krzyzewski's eyes nearly boiled over. To his credit, the legendary leader didn't lash out like he probably wanted to.
"They've been told not to take (anything) for granted; I've told everybody at Duke not to take anything for granted, especially my team," the Hall of Fame coach said. "Maybe sometime everybody will pay attention, especially my team. They're the ones, I'm with them all the time, they should listen and they should do, and they did not. That's not good, that's not good."
Yet, Duke still had a chance to win. As poorly as it played, as much as it lacked focus and fire, Duke had opportunities inside the final seconds of regulation and overtime to erase the damage it had created, but came up short. Kelly says there's a reality the team has discovered in recent weeks.
"There were 24 minutes where we weren't playing the right kind of basketball, playing winning basketball," he said. "The amazing thing is we still had a chance to win, and that's what's sad about it, when we play the way we're supposed to play we're pretty darn good, but when we don't, anybody can beat us."