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Duke 97, Syracuse 88: Blue Devils hold off Orange comeback attempt

Syracuse put up a solid first-half effort, but an early second-half Duke run led to an Orange defeat in a foul-heavy affair

Duke v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team fell to the Duke Blue Devils by a final score of 97-88 on Saturday night. A competitive first half turned sour in the second, as Duke utilized a 28-11 early second half run and forced a failed Orange comeback attempt late.

Syracuse started hot on the offensive end as a fade-away two from Elijah Hughes found the bottom of the net, much to the delight of 31,458 Syracuse fans, the largest on-campus crowd of the 2019-20 college basketball season. The crowd was striped in three segments in colors of orange, blue and white to go along with a swag-surfing student section.

Marek Dolezaj worked his magic in the and around the paint as he drew an early foul on Duke and connected on a pair of free throws to go along with a floater; He had a quick four points for SU.

As Dolezaj got going, so did his junior forward counterpart. The rapport shared between Hughes and Dolezaj allowed them to connect on a backdoor cut — a play they’ve connected on time and again — at the 14-minute mark to give Syracuse a 13-8 lead.

On the other end of the court, Vernon Carey began to work inside for Duke. Syracuse did its best to contain the 6-foot-10 big man by collapsing on him when he caught the ball down low, but he proved to be too difficult to handle inside. He drew a second foul on Bourama Sidibe only eight minutes in.

Quincy Guerrier checked in along with Howard Washington as the first subs off the bench for SU; the former provided some much-needed work on the glass by grabbing three offensive boards as he got it going down low.

Joe Girard found Guerrier inside on a sweet dish for an and-one and the freshman forward out of Canada let out a loud roar. A made free throw gave him seven first half points and gave Syracuse a 28-23 lead.

Hughes had a pair of impressive blocks in the first half, his initial sending an Alex O’Connell 3-point attempt sailing into the crowd.

But Duke was able to go on a run toward the end of the half. The Blue Devils had scoring contributions across the board, yet Carey’s 12 points and 8 rebounds in the first 20 minutes of action stood out. Duke regained control of the game and fought back to take the lead.

With just over two ticks remaining in the first half, Buddy Boeheim went for the patented corner three on the inbounds, but his shot bounced off the iron and Duke took a 40-36 lead into the break.

Duke v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Duke came roaring out of the gates to begin the second half, going on a quick 9-3 run which included an emphatic dunk from Carey. He let Syracuse know about it, but was issued a technical after the play.

Duke flirted with foul trouble as the Blue Devils picked up four team fouls in the first four minutes of the second half, including a fourth on Javin DeLaurier. He and Wendell Moore, a freshman who missed the previous six games with a broken right wrist, would eventually foul out.

The game began to get away from Syracuse as Duke maintained its double-digit lead. After the first media timeout of the second half, O’Connel made a three to build Duke’s lead 54-41. He followed up his triple with a dunk to extend the Blue Devil run to 28-11.

Syracuse dug itself a deep hole, but began to claw back with a deep Joe Girard bomb to cut Duke’s lead to 12 with 8:36 to play. Out of the timeout, Syracuse went to the press and forced Duke to speed up. Boeheim connected on a 3 to cut it to 10 as Syracuse, but Hurt answered with a 3-ball of his own.

Carey continued his impressive play down the stretch for Duke as both teams fought. The lead teetered back and forth between single- and double-digits, with Syracuse never seriously threatening.

A Sidibe tip-in got Syracuse to within five, but Duke had answers every time Syracuse made a run. After the Sidibe tip-in, Cassius Stanley took it coast to coast and finished a 3-point play to get Duke an 82-74 lead.

Hughes and Girard hit late 3s to cut into Duke’s lead, but the Orange never got to within one possession. Duke won by a final score of 97-88. The contingent of Syracuse fans that didn’t file for an early exit stood and clapped despite the loss.

Final Stats

Dolezaj led Syracuse in scoring with 22 points and 6 rebounds. Hughes put up a 21-point effort. Girard had 17 points and 7 assists.

Carey had 26 points and 17 rebounds for Duke. Tre Jones had 17 points while Stanley had 15.

All-in-all, there were 55 fouls called in the game, including one technical on Carey.

Duke won the rebounding battle 41-35.

Next Up

Syracuse will have a week in between games. The Orange return home next Saturday to take on Wake Forest. That game tips at 8 p.m. ET and will air on the ACCN.