When Syracuse and Duke played about a month ago, the Blue Devils won handily. It was not close. The Orange got beat on both ends of the floor and in all phases of the game. Here are a few things that SU can do to not get blown out again in the potentially final Boeheim-K matchup.
1. Start Strong
The last two times the Orange have played the Blue Devils it has not started well. Duke was up 11-2 in January’s matchup and started 28-12 a season ago at Cameron Indoor. Granted, neither of those games were played in the Carrier Dome, but because of the talent disparity between the two teams SU has to start fast to stay in the game.
2. Play off the Crowd/Bring the Energy
Look at the way Syracuse started against Louisville, against Wake Forest, those are the games you have to model this one after. Weekends, big crowd, and the atmosphere does not get any better than when Duke and Coach K come to town.
Joe Girard is a player who feeds off the crowd more than anyone in recent SU memory. If Buddy and Joe are waving their arms at the top of the zone after made baskets, it will be interesting to see how the young Duke stars respond and handle what is likely to be the biggest crowd of the season.
3. Make the Most of Your Possessions
Turnovers were huge in the last matchup between these two teams on January 22nd. Duke’s 15 turnovers kept Syracuse in the game, albeit barely, for the first 15 minutes or so. But SU committed 10 turnovers of their own, not to mention shooting less than 30% from the field and only making five threes all afternoon.
Getting a quality shot, or executing some kind of offense each time down the floor against an aggressive and intense Duke defense will be key to performing better on that end of the court on Saturday.
4. Do All the Little Things
Finally, be scrappy, dive into the stands to save a ball, take a charge, get under the Blue Devils’ skin. Do everything that will not show up in the box score but will make an impact in the game. Syracuse is undermanned, undersized, not as athletic, and flat out not as good as Duke.
That does not mean you cannot win the game. By doing the little things that will undoubtedly fire up the crowd, it can make a huge difference late in the second half if things are still close.
It’s a long shot, but Syracuse has a chance to beat Duke if they follow this guide. Not saying it’s not a tall ask, but that’s what you have to do to beat good teams. With the NCAA Tournament likely out of the picture, this might be the last big game of the year, and it sure would be sweet to stick it to Coach K on the way out of the Carrier Dome doors.