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Ryan Kelly Catches Fire for Duke on Saturday

What on Earth was that? There’s not much more to say about Duke forward Ryan Kelly’s 36-point performance against the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. He had 20 points by halftime; his previous career-high was 23. He was returning from an ankle injury; he hadn’t played since January. Miami did everything they could to stay in the game, mounting a last second comeback attempt that fell just short, ultimately losing to the Blue Devils 79-76. It was a valiant road performance by the Hurricanes, but the story of the game was obviously Kelly’s sensational, out-of-nowhere performance. What could the Hurricanes have possibly done to prepare for the freight train they encountered on Saturday?

“I wouldn’t say [the game was] a dream, but I was just trying to win and do whatever it took to win,” Kelly said. “Today it was making shots and they were going in. And even if they weren’t, I wanted to play my hardest to win.”

From a gambling perspective, the Canes actually lived up to the game’s considerable hype. They were 5.5 point underdogs, and easily covered the spread. They led for vast swathes of the game, and nearly tied it up with two last second three-pointers that both missed. Gamblers have loved Miami this season, and with good reason; they’re 15-7-2 against the spread. Here were some of the other betting trends for both teams heading into Saturday’s titanic ACC clash, courtesy of OddsShark.com:

Miami Hurricanes Trends:
When playing on Saturday are 5-5
Before playing Georgia Tech are 6-4
After playing Virginia Tech are 5-5
After a win are 9


Duke Blue Devils Trends:
When playing on Saturday are 9-1
Before playing Virginia Tech are 8-2
After playing Virginia are 6-4
After a loss are 9-1


Hurricanes at Blue Devils trends:
Miami is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Miami’s last 7 games when playing on the road against Duke
Miami is 5-0-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Duke
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Miami’s last 5 games on the road
Duke is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 11 of Duke’s last 12 games when playing Miami
Duke is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing at home against Miami
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Duke’s last 7 games when playing at home against Miami


Kelly hit 10 of 14 shots, including seven of nine three-point attempts. Just how efficient was he? Per ESPN’s Stats and Information, Kelly outscored the entire Miami team, 23-22, on shot attempts from 15 feet or more away from the basket. Perhaps most importantly, Kelly was able to stretch the floor and open up space for Duke’s big man, Mason Plumlee, to operate. He was completely shut down in Duke’s loss to Virginia earlier this week because of the team’s lack of perimeter threats.

“He was the extra lift that we needed, he was the extra energy that we needed,” said Duke forward Rasheed Sulaimon. “He played tremendous. Every time we had a lull or a dead period, he was the one to pick us up. We were missing a great player in Ryan, but also we were missing a great leader, so we’re just happy to have him back.”

The loss shouldn’t hurt Miami’s stock too badly; they hung in the entire way in a brutal road environment. But people won’t remember that; what people will really remember is Kelly’s ludicrous box score.

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