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The dumbest things about the Syracuse vs. Duke ‘rivalry’ so far

Syracuse vs. Duke has been fun, weird and yes, dumb.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Syracuse Orange and Duke Blue Devils face off for the seventh time since SU joined the ACC. They’re tied 3-3 in those contests so far, with a fair amount of nonsense accompanying most of them.

Most of that nonsense has been pretty fun, and substantial portions of it could easily be classified as “dumb.” Below, we make an attempt to explore the dumb aspects, especially where they intersect with the fun ones.

The 2016 Syracuse-Duke box score

I mean, look at the thing. The most nonsensical part of it is the fact that four different Syracuse players scored exactly 14 points, obviously. But there’s so much more to this masterpiece. Tyler Roberson had 20 rebounds (a record for a visiting player at Cameron Indoor), and 12 of them were on the offensive end. The teams scored a combined 126 points in the 64-62 Orange victory, and only took a total of 17 foul shots.

SU had 49 rebounds, including 26 on the offensive glass. Duke was similarly effective collecting offensive boards, with 18 of their own (and 42 total). Despite all of this offensive rebounding, the Orange and Blue Devils were a combined 48-of-133 from the field.

Also, Marshall Plumlee had 19 points and 17 rebounds. None of this is rational.

How the 2016 Syracuse-Duke game ended

Syracuse grabbed a late lead, then managed to hold off Duke via a wild series of events. Up 63-62 with 29 seconds to go, Michael Gbinije missed the front end of a 1-and-1, then eventually Grayson Allen missed an easy two on the other end for Duke. You may recall him trying to draw a call and/or some contact on the shot. The miss hung in the air, created some chaos, and eventually ended up in Malachi Richardson’s hands. He’d hit one foul shot to make it 64-62 with two seconds left.

Malachi missed the second (likely on purpose), and Matt Jones quickly grabbed the rebound and careened toward the top of the key. He threw himself into a pile of Orange defenders, seemingly expecting a foul. It never happened. Game, SU. Coach K said the word “amazing” a lot afterward. He’s probably over it by this point.

Rasheed Sulaimon’s ridiculous three

I won’t dignify this damn shot with a video clip. But that off-balance three to tie the 2014 Carrier Dome contest at 78 at the buzzer was as vicious as they come. In arguably the best regular season game I’ve ever watched, the two top-20 teams battled back and forth, but the Orange grabbed a three-point lead with just seconds to play. Sulaimon and Duke just happened to break the press and force up an unlikely heave. Syracuse would eventually net the victory, but that shot remains a gut punch despite the outcome.

John Gillon’s almost-as-ridiculous three

Oddly, I knew it was going in. Maybe you did too. Desperate for big wins to help buoy the teams’ slim (ultimately unsuccessful) tournament hopes, the 2016-17 Syracuse squad had roared back against Duke in the second half, erasing an eight-point deficit at the break. Gillon had the hot hand for the Orange all night, ending up with 26 points. But it was that stunning dagger at the end that earned the victory and solidified Gillon as one of our all-time clutch shooters (when coupled with the NC State winner).

When you watch that last play, it’s crazy how much Duke had no idea what was happening. At about the four-second mark, Gillon turns on the jets and weaves miraculously through the defense, at this point on its heels. He gets just beyond the arc and launches up the leaner. In. Ball game.


Jim Boeheim redefines rage

Jim’s long been one to share his emotions with the group, but the jacket (partial) removal and subsequent ejection may have reset the bar -- even for him. After C.J. Fair scored what should’ve been the game-tying basket in the final seconds at Cameron Indoor, referees called it a charge, instead of a blocking foul (which would’ve sent C.J. to the line with a chance to take the lead). Boeheim, like the rest of us, was enraged by the call. The ensuing foul shots awarded to Duke iced the 66-60 loss for SU.

C.J. has some good humor about it all four years later. I’d doubt Boeheim does.

The shirts...

Before the first matchup (the 91-89 overtime win for Syracuse), the t-shirt train was still moving at full speed. So of course we had a bevy of options to wear to manufacture a “rivalry,” instead of just allowing one to potentially develop on the court. This was easily the dumbest thing associated with this matchup, and one of the more regrettable things we’ve done as a fan base in recent years.


Any truly dumb/fun moments we’re missing here? Provide your own below.