Moments later, he was emphatically talking and trading high-fives with Hurricanes fans on his way off the court.
“We’re the real deal,” McGusty said. “And I think everybody saw that tonight.”
McGusty hit a hanging layup in traffic with 22.8 seconds left and the Hurricanes survived that final-play shot for the win to stun the Blue Devils 76-74, earning their first win against a top-5 opponent in nearly six years while remaining unbeaten in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Charlie Moore had 18 points and a career-high seven steals for the Hurricanes (13-3, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their ninth straight game. This time, days after rallying from 18 down to beat Syracuse, Miami won at Duke’s famously rowdy Cameron Indoor Stadium with a fearless performance that had them repeatedly beating defenders off the dribble or on backcuts while answering every push by the homestanding Blue Devils (12-2, 2-1).
“We came out here and just played together and played hard,” Moore said, adding: “Our energy out there, our effort and us trusting each other helped us come out with the win.”
After a free throw from Isaiah Wong pushed Miami to the 76-74 lead with 8.0 seconds left, Duke had two chances to win. On the first, Wendell Moore Jr. pushed the ballcourt and launched a 3-pointer from near the Duke bench, but the ball bounced out of bounds on a loose rebound and went back to the Blue Devils with 0.7 on the clock.
On the final play, Moore inbounded to freshman Trevor Keels, whose desperation 3 hit the rim but wasn’t particularly close to end it.
That sent Miami players running to midcourt to celebrate and in a chest-bump heavy mob. Moore simply walked around near that crowd with both arms raised triumphantly, while McGusty held court with Miami’s fans before team headed off to continue the celebration in Cameron’s cramped visiting locker room.
McGusty finished with 14 points for Miami, which shot 58% in the second half to secure its first win against a top-5 opponent since beating Virginia in February 2016.
Miami also finished with 15 steals while forcing Duke into a season-high 17 turnovers.
Not bad for a team picked to finish 12th in the ACC before the season and facing the preseason favorite on the road.
“Woooo, I’m not going to lie,” McGusty said when asked where this win ranked for him in his career. “This is No. 1 without a doubt.”
Star freshman Paolo Banchero had 20 points to lead Duke, including two late baskets and critical steal to set up his own transition dunk that pushed the Blue Devils to a 74-71 lead. But Moore answered with a whistle-drawing basket to cut the deficit to one with 33.3 seconds left.
Then, after Moore missed the tying and-1 free throw, McGusty put Miami ahead for good with his driving basket.
“I know the main story will be about the last minute. But to me the story of the game was our turnovers,” retiring Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Miami: Jim Larranaga’s Hurricanes have revised those low preseason expectations with their play since the start of December. The 4-0 ACC start was only the second in program history and first since starting 13-0 in 2013, while the eight-game run was the program’s best since going 10-0 to start the 2017-18 season. Now the Hurricanes have everyone’s attention, and could land in Monday’s next AP Top 25 poll as a result.
“These guys are really playing the game,” Larranaga said. “They’re doing a lot of things at both ends of the floor to help each other.”
Duke: The Blue Devils were playing their second home game this week since returning from a stoppage due to a COVID-19 outbreak. They grinded through a win in Tuesday’s return against Georgia Tech while shooting a season-low 37%, though the Blue Devils looked got their offense rolling by shooting 57% after halftime, but the problem was more their inability to drivers or cutters along with all those turnovers.
“They definitely played a good game, but at the same time, I think we helped them out a lot,” Moore said.
Miami: The Hurricanes stay in their home state to play a road game, visiting Florida State on Tuesday.
Duke: The Blue Devils play their own instate road game by visiting Wake Forest on Wednesday.