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Slumping Hurricanes hope to beat No. 8 Duke at home Wednesday as they did last season

The Miami Hurricanes’ NCAA tournament dreams are slipping away after a four-game losing streak, but if anything could get the team back on track it would be a home win over No. 8 Duke on Wednesday night.

Last February, UM knocked off the Blue Devils by 22 points in front of an electric sold out Watsco Center. The Canes led by as many as 26 and led from wire-to-wire. The Hurricanes are 8-8 against Duke in conference play during UM coach Jim Larranaga’s 13-year tenure, the best record of any ACC team during that stretch.

Larranaga would love a repeat performance, but it won’t be easy.

Last year’s UM team was in the Top 20 with a 19-5 record at the time of that game. This year’s team is unranked at 15-11, 6-9 in the ACC.

Duke, meanwhile, boasts a 20-5 record, 11-3 in the conference. The Blue Devils roster includes 7-foot center Kyle Filipowski, who returned for his sophomore season despite being projected as a first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Other notable Duke players include Tyrese Proctor, who had a concussion but might be back for the UM game, and Jared McCain, who made a Duke freshman record eight three-pointers and scored 35 points against FSU.

“Duke is very, very good, very skillful at every position,” Larranaga said. “Proctor is a terrific point guard, someday he’ll be in the NBA. Jeremy Roach is a great leader for them. Jared McCain is headed toward Rookie of the Year, terrific all-around player and an NBA guy. Mitchell is a very aggressive attacking forward who can rebound and drive the ball to the basket. And then there’s Filipowski, a preseason Player of the Year.”

The Hurricanes will be without Nijel Pack, who has been dealing with knee soreness. Larranaga had said Monday that there was a chance Pack would have to miss the rest of the season, but he was more optimistic on Tuesday after speaking with the team’s medical staff.

“We’re hoping to have him back later on this week,” Larranaga said.

Matt Cleveland missed practice Monday due to an upset stomach but was expected back on Tuesday and should be available to play against Duke.

Despite the four-game losing streak, the team is in relatively good spirits, the coach said.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing not to be healthy and playing up to our capability, but I think the guys have handled it well,” Larranaga said. “They are excited about the upcoming games and looking forward to Duke. We should have a great turnout, a sellout.”

UM freshman forward Norchad Omier added: “Coach (Larranaga) knows Duke. He knows how to beat every team in the league, but I think he gets more excited for Duke, so we just have to listen to him, execute and we’ll be alright.”