Duke robbed Syracuse of its best opportunity for an elite-level ACC win, beating the Orange 97-88. Blue Devils big man Vernon Carey continued a season-long trend for the Orange by absolutely owning the paint. He finished with 26 points (9/14) and 17 rebounds. Syracuse never got it going from beyond the arc. After a 1/12 first half, the Orange ended 6/26 from three.
It was a disappointing night from Syracuse’s big three. Elijah Hughes started the game with ten points in the first ten minutes. He proceeded to score just two in the next 20 minutes. Late buckets saved his stat line, and the junior finished with 21.
Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim shot a combined 3/17 from deep. Boeheim scored just 13, while six made free throws by Girard boosted him up to 17. The highlights offensively for Syracuse was Marek Dolezaj. He dropped a career-high 22, while attacking the rim throughout.
“Coaches and teammates are forcing me to drive, go to the basket. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m getting some baskets, I’m getting some fouls,” Dolezaj said.
Syracuse drove the basketball all night long. Their most successful offense was getting to the free throw line, where they went 28/37. That’s what got Syracuse up to 88 points, but Duke made even more freebies (29/33).
54 fouls were called in the game. Syracuse’s 29 fouls drawn set a program record.
“It’s definitely tough for momentum,” Buddy Boeheim said on the tight officiating.
On the defensive end, the Orange struggled with Duke’s size.
Duke scored 44 points in the paint, to be exact. The bigger problem was how efficient the Blue Devils were in doing so. Coach K’s team shot a staggering 67% from inside the arc.
“We played as bad as it gets shooting the ball. That’s what we rely on. To be 5-6 points with 4-5 minutes is a good sign. You know, you wanna win those,” Boeheim said.