The now 941 game-winner Jim Boeheim said “it seemed hard” when asked about getting out to Duke’s shooters. His sarcasm came as no surprise in his postgame presser, as the head man cracked a few smiles after Syracuse’s 91 – 89, overtime thriller win over Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils.
The Orange victory notched the program’s best start in program history at 21-0.
“We’ve had a lot of games that have been here that are great. There’s never been one as good as this one,” Boeheim said.
The first-ever matchup with Duke at the Carrier Dome easily exceeded expectations. The hype and anticipation started all the way back during the summer months. The constant debate on whether or not Syracuse would move the floor into the center of the Loud House arguably created more conversation than SU football’s 2013 season. The team’s hot start and road to get to 20-0 obviously sparked the fanbase even more leading up to Saturday’s events. ESPN’s College Game Day added flare and fire.
Both teams had answers for each other the entire game. CJ Fair exploded in the second half with 17 points in that frame alone and 28 overall to set a new career-high. Jermai Grant produced big-time in OT with eight extra frame points. He also totaled a career-high: 24 points. Easy to forget the game Rakeem Christmas had down low for the Orange. Christmas pulled down 10 boards and had an eye-pooping six blocks. SU’s wing play performed as it’s played all season long. Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney, who’s slumped in recent bits, chipped in 14 apiece. As it turns out, Syracuse needed each of the weapons in its offensive quartet to play at a high level.
Duke enlightened the record-breaking crowd of 35,446 with its aggressive three-point shooting. The Blue Devils took 36 threes and banged 15 of them. They needed every last one of them, as Rasheed Sulaimon’s top of the key shot sent the game to overtime. Coach K admitted that on a scale from one to ten, the loss of Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson to foul trouble was “no doubt a 10” and it was “painful.” Props to college basketball’s all-time winningest, Division I coach for handling the game with class despite the unfortunate outcome. He also said both teams deserved to the win a tremendous game.
The Orange at one point jumped out to a seven-point lead in second-half action, but as mentioned, Duke pretty much had an answer for everything. Fair’s clutch play stood out, while the other parts of the whole filled their roles as well as you could have asked. A monumental win for an already very successful basketball program, to say the least.
So did Duke-Syracuse live up to all the anticipation?
Yes, it did.
The teams blew it out of the water.
Posted by: Brendan Glasheen