Durham, N.C. — After falling at home to Georgia Tech on Saturday, the Syracuse Orange headed south to take on the No. 1 team in the country, the Duke Blue Devils. The Orange struggled out of the gate, but came back and knocked off the Blue Devils 95-91.
Syracuse got off to a nightmare start as Duke rushed out to a 12-0 lead in Cameron Indoor without Cam Reddish, who was under the weather. Both point guards in orange struggled to get the ball over the timeline early with Tre Jones picking up full court — he pressured both Frank Howard and Jalen Carey and was able to force some early turnovers.
Howard picked up three fouls just five minutes into the contest and on the third he collided with Jones diving for a loose ball. Jones was taken to the locker room and never returned to the floor.
Syracuse didn’t get out unscathed, however, as Marek Dolezaj had the courage to take a charge on Zion Williamson. With almost 100 lbs separating the two, Dolezaj looked flew back as if he were shot out of a cannon.
Marek Dolezaj, thank you for your service pic.twitter.com/Lu23C1TkLb— Dylan Finer (@dfines31) January 15, 2019
During that stretch, Tyus Battle had to take the reigns at point and began to take over the game. Battle made a pair of floaters, Elijah Hughes knocked down a three and then Battle would hit two more jumpers and a three to get Syracuse back within one point at 18-17. Later in the half, Battle would author Syracuse’s first lead of the game 35-33 on a pair of free throws. Duke battled back to quickly retake the lead, but the Orange stayed competitive with 20 first half points from Battle and 18 from Hughes, who had the play of the half. With less than three seconds remaining, he took the inbounds from the opposite endline and bobbled the ball, collected himself and threw up a prayer that was answered.
Syracuse went into the half trailing Duke 49-48.
Out of the half, both teams traded buckets early until Duke went on a 7-0 run behind a Javin DeLaurier finish at the rim on top a three and lay-up from Williamson. Syracuse punched back though and Howard was able to take advantage of Jones being sidelined. Alex O’Connell found himself matched up with the senior point and Howard went off to score 12 of Syracuse’s next 13 points to get the Orange within three at the 10-minute mark.
The Orange went toe-to-toe down the stretch and at the 3:10 mark was able to take an 81-80 lead on a Paschal Chukwu put-back. Duke clawed back, Howard hit a floater, Duke scored again and Battle hit a step-back to put Syracuse back up one with 1:13 to play. After Williamson hit one of two free throws, Battle back-rimmed a potential game-winner and Syracuse went to overtime.
Hughes took the tip and jetted to the rim as he snuck in a lay-up to start the extra time. O’Connel responded with a three but Battle answered right back with a jumper of his own. Howard then stole the ball at the other end and took it coast to coast for an easy layup.
On the ensuing Syracuse possession, Chukwu was fouled before being whistled for goaltending — he earned two free throws and knocked them both down. Syracuse closed it out down the stretch, not allowing Duke easy looks from deep.
Video recap and reaction from our own Dylan Finer:
Syracuse was hot from outside, shooting 44 percent (#BRAND) percent from three.
Battle led the way in scoring as he exploded for 32 points and Hughes poured in 20. Oshae Brissett had 14 points and 8 rebounds while Howard had 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Duke shots just 21.0 percent from three. Syracuse won the rebounding battle 53-48.
Syracuse returns home to take on Pittsburgh on Saturday. That game tips at 2pm from the Carrier Dome and will air on the ACCNE.