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Duke 85, Syracuse 71: Orange blown out by Blue Devils

A chance for a key win quickly vanishes

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange had an opportunity against the Duke Blue Devils to pick up a huge resume boosting win on the road at Cameron Indoor Stadium. However, Duke rained a barrage of threes against the Syracuse zone to open up a huge lead that the Blue Devils wouldn’t relinquish. Duke had all of the offensive momentum it needed to run away with a 85-71 win over Syracuse.

The tone of the game was set early as Duke found open three after open three to break down Syracuse’s small perimeter defense. The Blue Devils rhythm was set early and by the time that Jim Boeheim subbed in Kadary Richmond and Robert Braswell, it was too late. Duke saw too many shots go through the net which gave the Blue Devils all the confidence they needed.

Duke players started taking shots at will with most of them going through the net. The Blue Devils were 10-of-18 from three in the first half to completely decimate Syracuse. Duke also did their damage down low with Mark Williams scooping up offensive rebounds and running the floor well in transition.

As Williams got settled in the game, Syracuse’s initial offensive game plan started failing. The Orange found early success inside but Williams started to bog down the paint and limit Syracuse’s efficiency at the rim. It wasn’t until he got into late foul trouble that the Orange found some returned success at the basket, mainly through Kadary Richmond. The freshman had 13 points to lead Syracuse at the half.

However, Duke kept hitting shot after shot, even with Syracuse’s better defensive players in the game. The Blue Devils were 20-of-32 from the floor in the first half and assisted on 16 of their baskets. Duke kept the momentum squarely in their favor to open up the huge lead.

Williams continued his great game in the second half as he dominated Syracuse underneath the basket on both sides of the ball. He recorded career highs in points and rebounds against Syracuse with 18 and 11 respectively. Williams took full advantage of his increased size over Marek Dolezaj to limit his defensive ability.

After the under-16 minute timeout of the second half, Syracuse switched to the press. That full-court press is what brought the Orange back into the game against Notre Dame, but the Blue Devils had better success against the forced increase pace. Duke’s passing was much better to break the press and they finished with more efficiency at the rim when the press went into effect.

With the press failing, Syracuse couldn’t generate the offensive rhythm it needed to keep up with Duke. The Orange have usually been efficient at the rim, but with Williams protecting the basket, Syracuse couldn’t finish effectively around him. Syracuse finished the game shooting 40.6% from the floor and 33.3% from three. Buddy Boeheim led the Orange with 21 points.

While Syracuse continued to stay cold from the floor, Duke continued to hit shots at will. The Blue Devils finishing shooting 53.1% from the floor and 44.8% from three. Four Duke players finished the game with double-digit points.

The loss means that Syracuse has lost a fifth quadrant one game this season. Unless North Carolina improves its NET rating, Syracuse only has one more scheduled opportunity at a quadrant one win, which is its next game on Saturday at Georgia Tech. However, the Orange had an excellent chance to secure a resume booster that could strengthen Syracuse’s position on the bubble. Instead, the Orange face the possible necessity of needing to win out in order to make the NCAA tournament.