Duke Basketball cleared one of the most difficult hurdles remaining on their schedule when they beat Syracuse in the Dome on Saturday night. They now take sight at their rival UNC on the weekend without trying to look past a trip to Beantown for the Eagles of BC.
When Duke Basketball held on to beat the Syracuse Orange 97-88, they did so in front of one of the largest regular-season crowds in basketball history. While not quite reaching the top three, all Duke games in the Carrier Dome, it was still an electric environment and Syracuse fed off that energy to jump out early and lead most of the first half.
Notice the phrase most of, as Duke raced back at the end to take a four-point edge going into halftime. The Blue Devils closed with a 6-0 run and a 12-4 extended one in the last minutes to take out the crowd that was roaring from the beginning. The Orange were paced by torrid starts from Elijah Hughes and Marek Dolezaj who reached a career-high with 22 points, but both cooled off after the half.
Duke did not, however, and quickly took control of the game with their own hot start to the second half that quieted the raucous crowd even further. The Blue Devils really locked in defensively and wouldn’t leave the Orange shooters to bomb away from three.
As a result, Syracuse only shot 23% from three with Hughes and Buddy Boeheim, the ACC leader in made threes, to go 3-16 from beyond the arc and only 10-32 overall. Despite the shooting woes, the Cuse got back into it with big games from Joe Girard and Dolezaj.
Syracuse was 7-2 in the last nine with Dolezaj fouling out of their two losses. He is an important part of their success and he delivered, as did Girard, who was probably eager to show Coach K what he was missing since choosing the Cuse over Duke last year.
The Blue Devils were in control until turnovers, some unforced and some caused by a Syracuse press that was effective in getting them back into it. Overall, Duke had 19 turnovers to only 19 assists, which has been a recipe for disaster for the Devils this season. In their three losses, they have had a negative turnover to assist ratio and may have barely survived since they had a push in this metric at one to one.
Duke will take the win though in a series that has become one of the regular season’s must-see matchups. Now it’s a Boston College Eagles team coming off a hard-fought win of their own on Saturday over the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill on Cole Anthony’s return where he had 26 points and only one turnover. OUCH!
Yeah, it’s a dig. See why rivals revel in each other’s sorrow in an earlier article I wrote, but as they say, onto to Cincinnati. Well, on to Boston in this case, but you know what I mean.