No Jesse Edwards. No Benny Williams. And the worst of it all, no Buddy Boeheim, suspended for one game after the ACC ruled he punched Florida State’s Wyatt Wilkes in the gut yesterday. All odds were stacked against nine-seed Syracuse heading into Thursday’s matchup with top-seed Duke.
With all the hurdles to overcome, it would’ve been easy for SU to roll over against a Blue Devil team which beat SU by 20 and 25 during the regular season. However, the Orange came out with tricks up their sleeves. Jim Boeheim ran every defense in the coaches’s playbook. However, Duke just started shooting over it.
The Blue Devils started the game 4-6 from three, jumping out to a 10-point lead midway through the first half. But Coach K’s crew went 7-26 from downtown the rest of the game.
Joe Girard caught fire after the under-12 media timeout, going on a personal 10-0 run. JG3 scored 18 total points in the first half, including a halftime-buzzer-beating step-back corner trifecta.
It was Symir Torrence, in his first SU start, allowing Girard to find space off the ball. The Marquette transfer dished out 11 assists compared to just two turnovers. Once the Blue Devils cooled off, they countered by taking the ball inside. Duke finished with 40 points in the paint. Both sides used these dueling styles to bounce back and forth to a 40-36 halftime score in favor of the Orange.
It was more of the same in the second 20 minutes, with a slight change for SU. Jimmy Boeheim carried the second-half offensive load, going for 18 of his own after the break. The elder brother finished with a season-high 28 points, and was 6-9 from distance. Jimmy dueled with Duke’s Jeremy Roach, who dropped 16 in the second half. Blue Devil big Mark Williams woke up as well, with all of his 15 points coming down the stretch. At the end of the day, talent won out, and Duke was too much for SU.
Unless Syracuse accepts a miraculous bid to the NIT, the Orange’s 2021-22 season is over. What a wacky ride it was.