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Duke 80 - Syracuse 72: Five Big Takeaways

Let's revisit last night's game.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

In their third meeting as ACC foes, the Syracuse Orange suffered a tough 80-72 loss to the Duke Blue Devils at the Carrier Dome Saturday night. Here are five takeaways:

1. Rakeem struggles, Okafor dominates.

In what was built up as a matchup between two of the nation's best big men, Duke center Jahlil Okafor thoroughly outplayed Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas. Christmas struggled all night, finishing 5-of-17 from the floor with 11 points, while Okafor showed 35,446 Orange faithful why most expected that he will be the first player selected in the 2015 NBA Draft. The Chicago native had 23 points and 13 rebounds, good for his ninth double-double of the season, as he led the Blue Devils past Christmas's Orange.

2. Gbinije continues to be SU's best player as of late.

The Orange controlled a large portion of the first half Saturday, when they even led by 11 points at the 3:30 mark. That was largely due to the play of Michael Gbinije, who went 5-of-6 from three-point range and scored 19 points in those first 20 minutes. Gbinije finished with a career and game-high 27 points against his former school, marking the fourth straight game he has at least tied for the lead in scoring among Syracuse players. In that stretch, he's averaging 22.3 points per game and is shooting 65.3 percent from the field, as well as 54.5 percent from beyond the arc.

3. Meanwhile, Cooney continues to slump.

Trevor Cooney's shooting woes continued in Saturday's loss, when he finished 4-of-14 from the field and 3-of-10 from deep. In Syracuse's past five games, three of which have been losses, he's shooting just 34.6 percent and is making three-pointers at a modest 26.0 percent clip. If the Orange want to get some wins in coming games, which include meetings with four top-ten teams, they could certainly use more production from Cooney.

4. Roberson makes a statement.

Three days after playing just 11 minutes and scoring only one point at Boston College, Tyler Roberson bounced back in a big way Saturday. He had 19 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals in what was surely the best game he's played in his young collegiate career. Along with Gbinije, Roberson's play helped keep Syracuse afloat for much of last night's loss.

5. Another game the Orange couldn't quite finish.

Like in recent losses to North Carolina and Pittsburgh, it appeared for at least 20 minutes that Syracuse could pull out an upset Saturday. But for the third time in five games, the Orange held a halftime lead that was ultimately squandered in the second half. This time, after going into the break up 39-36, SU watched Duke open the second half on a 16-4 run to go ahead for good. Head coach Jim Boeheim would say afterwards that it's possible his team simply isn't good enough to win these games, and maybe he's right.