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Syracuse Rallies for Big Win at Duke

Posted on January 16, 2019 by Chris Kent

Committing three turnovers, four fouls, and shooting 0-for-3 including one missed layup – all which cause the head coach to make three substitutions over the first 3:02 of the game – is not a recipe for a win, especially against the number one team in the country on its’ home court. Add in the fact that you trail 12-0 before scoring your first point of the game and two of your team fouls are on your starting senior point guard who does not score in the first half, and you have even more of a hole to dig out of. However that is exactly what Syracuse did in a thrilling 95-91 road victory over No. 1 Duke on Monday Jan. 14 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC. It was the first victory for the Orange over a No. 1 ranked team since Jan. 19, 2013 when it won at Louisville, 70-68.

Tyus Battle elevates for a breakaway dunk during Monday’s thrilling overtime victory over No. 1 Duke.

Junior shooting guard Tyus Battle lead the Orange (12-5, 3-1) with 32 points and had four assists while junior forward Elijah Hughes shot 4-for-9 on three-pointers en route to 20 points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior center Paschal Chukwu added a career-high 18 rebounds and scored 10 points. Battle’s 32 points represented the most points ever scored by a Syracuse player against the Blue Devils. Duke (14-2, 3-1) was lead by freshman forward Zion Williamson who had a career high 35 points and 10 rebounds while freshman forward RJ Barrett fell one assist short of a triple double with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and 9 assists. Williamson’s 35 points were the most ever by a Blue Devil freshman in a single game.

The Orange were coming off a sluggish performance in a 73-59 home loss to Georgia Tech just 48 hours earlier on Jan. 12 in which they had their worst shooting performance of the season  (18-for-57, .316) in dropping their first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season. However all that was short lived as Syracuse made a quick turnaround to notch a marquee win. Meanwhile, Duke was coming off a thrilling 80-78 win at Florida State on Jan. 12, secured by a late three-pointer by freshman Cam Reddish with 0.8 seconds left to play.

Against the Orange, The Blue Devils assumed control early with a 12-0 lead three minutes into the game. However that would be the largest margin for either side the whole game. Although Reddish did not play at all and Duke starting point guard Tre Jones did not return to the game after suffering a shoulder injury while diving for a loose ball at the 14:23 mark of the first half, Syracuse still faced a major challenge. The Orange soon found its’ rhythm behind the play of Battle and Hughes who literally shot Syracuse back into the game. The Orange mounted a 17-6 run over the next five minutes to pull within one at 18-17. Battle and Hughes accounted for all of those points with Battle netting 12 and Hughes adding five. Each of them hit one three-pointer during the run. While the Blue Devils would push their lead to as many as six at the midway point of the first half, Syracuse would stay close. A 5-0 Orange run on a Hughes three and two free throws by Battle forced the game’s first tie at 29 with 6:38 left in the first half. A Battle free throw gave Syracuse its’ first lead of the game at 34-33 with 5:12 left. The teams would exchange leads over the last five minutes of the half which ended with Hughes converting a three-pointer on a three quarter court heave that beat the halftime buzzer bringing Syracuse to within one, 49-48.

Battle and Hughes combined to score 38 of the 48 Orange points in the first half with 20 and 18 points respectively. The duo combined to shoot 12-for-20 from the field including 5-for-7 on three-pointers. The tandem also shot 9-for-9 from the foul line where Syracuse went 11-for-14 from helping to keep them in the game. Williamson scored 20 points on 6-for-8 shooting and notched a pair of blocks in the opening 20 minutes to lead Duke which got 14 points and eight rebounds from Barrett.

Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson battles with Syracuse defenders inside.

Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson battles with Syracuse defenders inside.

The Blue Devils outscored the Orange 28-8 in the paint in the first half with Williamson doing most of the damage. Credit Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim in making halftime adjustments with his fabled 2-3 zone defense as Duke held just a 16-14 edge in points in the paint in the second half when the zone was more effective and forced the Blue Devils to take seven more three-point shots than it did in the first half. Although the Orange made just two more three-pointers (11 to 9) in the game than Duke did, they were more efficient shooting 11-for-25 (44.0 percent) from deep compared to the Blue Devils’ 9-for-43 (20.9 percent) effort.

Efficiency was on the side of Syracuse senior point guard Frank Howard in the second half. Following a scoreless first half during which he picked up three fouls in the first six minutes, Howard asserted himself in the second half by scoring 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting including a pair of three-pointers to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists.

The Orange opened the second half scoring on a layup by sophomore forward Oshae Brissett for a 50-49 lead less than a minute into the half. A Williamson free throw tied it at 50 with 19:04 left to play. Duke then went on a 20-12 run to take a 70-62 lead with 13:05 left to play in regulation. Keeping Syracuse in striking distance during that surge by the Blue Devils was Battle’s six points along with three-pointers from Brissett and Howard.

The Orange responded with an 8-2 run to close the gap to 72-70 at the 10:47 mark. Howard scored seven of the eight points and capped the run with a three-pointer. Duke pushed the lead back to five points at 75-70 on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Alex O’Connell with 10:15 to play in regulation. That five-point margin was the biggest lead that either team would have the rest of the way including the overtime. These two heavyweights were in for a back-and-forth battle the rest of the way.

Howard continued his efficient play by answering O’Connell’s trey with a jumper of his own to pull Syracuse back within three at 75-72 at the 10:08 mark of the second half. The Orange then outscored the Blue Devils 9-5 to take an 81-80 lead with 3:05 left in regulation. It was the first lead for Syracuse since the opening bucket of the second half. Chukwu’s offensive rebound and layup off a missed Battle layup gave the Orange the one-point lead.

Syracuse center Paschal Chukwu battles with Duke's Zion Williamson for position

Syracuse center Paschal Chukwu battles with Duke’s Zion Williamson for position.

The two teams would exchange ties and one-point leads over the last three minutes of regulation leading to the overtime. Williamson converted one of two free throws with :17 left to tie it at 85. Syracuse had the last possession in regulation with Battle missing a three-pointer as time expired.

In overtime, the Orange won the opening tip and scored on a layup by Hughes in the paint for an 87-85 lead. A three-pointer by O’Connell put Duke up 88-87 in what would be its’ last lead of the game. The ensuing possession saw Battle convert a step back jumper from just inside the three-point line which put Syracuse up for good, 89-88 with 3:56 to play. The Blue Devils shot 0-for-6 from three the rest of the overtime as Syracuse secured the victory. Chukwu played big in the overtime with four points and four rebounds. His slam dunk off a lob pass from a driving Howard with :44 left provided the final points of the game. Duke went 0-for-3 on three-pointers over its’ final two possessions in the closing seconds. These two teams will meet again in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY on Feb. 23 in what could be a game that has even greater significance in the ACC and postseason race.

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