The Orange were 17-point underdogs. The Orange were coming off a 14-point loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse defied all odds in a 95-91 overtime win against No. 1 Duke at Cameron Indoor.
Just when we thought the Orange were in real trouble, they respond with a resume-changing win against the best team in the country. Tyus Battle carried the load for the Orange with 32 points. The junior guard played all 45 minutes and picked up four rebounds and four assists along the way.
Battle was in peak form the entire game. The most surprising player in the game was center Paschal Chukwu. After not playing a single minute against Clemson last week, Chukwu pulled down 18 rebounds to go with his ten points. Chukwu was felt during each of his 31 minutes on the floor.
Boeheim on Chukwu: He finally caught some passes down low. Took him four years, but finally.
“It means I’m a bad teacher, or he’s a slow learner.”
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) January 15, 2019
Zion Williamson (35 points, 10 rebounds) did his thing for the Blue Devils, but the Orange got more comfortable defending him in the 2-3 zone as the game went on. Cam Reddish missed the game for Duke due to an illness, while Trey Jones left in the first half with an apparent shoulder injury. Once Jones exited the game the Orange pounced.
Syracuse allowed the first 11 points of the game and at one point trailed 14-2. Then, after a Jim Boeheim timeout, something changed. The Orange looked like a different team the rest of the way and even pulled off one of the craziest shots you’ll ever see.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 15, 2019
Hughes didn’t do much in the second half, but the Orange didn’t need him too. Tyus Battle carried the team, while Frank Howard poured in all 16 of his points in the game’s final 20 minutes. Overall, the Orange finally made shots. Syracuse was 11-of-25 from downtown (44%).
Regardless of your opinion of how this team plays, a shooting performance like that is going to give SU a chance to win no matter who its playing.
This is a statement win for the Orange. Boeheim improved to 5-6 all-time against No.1 teams and the Orange continue to do what they do best: be great when you’re least expecting it.
What We Learned
- Syracuse will play to the level of its competition. That’s the only way you can explain this one after a total letdown in the Dome against Georgia Tech.
- This win changes the outlook on the Orange’s tournament chances. Baring a collapse down the stretch, how can you leave a Syracuse team that beat No. 1 Duke in Cameron out of the tournament?
- Chukwu is valuable. What an unreal performance by the tallest player in SU program history. He showed the doubters what he is capable of on the biggest stage in college basketball.
- Battle is still Battle. We’ve seen it all year long, but Battle is a guy that you want to have the ball in crunch time. He took matters into his own hands at multiple times tonight, taking it to the rack at will.
- Don’t count this team out. Tonight is what fans were hoping to see at the start of the season. Can they do it consistently?
Syracuse gets a well-deserved break before hosting Pittsburgh on Saturday. We’ll have to wait and see if they can build off this stunning win. Until then, keep it locked to OrangeFizz.net for reactions and analysis all week long.