At the beginning of the game, the Blue Devils came out hot as they did in their two previous matchups against the Orange in which the Orange appeared rattled. The Blue Devils made four 3 pointers within the first five minutes.
In this do or die scenario, the Orange responded and in a big way.
The Orange seemed to play with a chip on their shoulder and an intense focus.
“People counted us out,” Jimmy Boeheim said.
Many members of the media, including Syracuse media already wrote the Orange off in the wake of Buddy Boeheim’s suspension but not so fast.
Without their star guard Buddy Boeheim, their combo guard Joe Girard came out aggressively hitting threes and drawing fouls. Girard had 18 points at halftime including a buzzer beating 3 as a punctuation mark to end the half. Girard ended with 23 points as the Duke defense contained him in the second half.
Along with Girard, Jimmy Boeheim channeled his inner Buddy Boeheim. More of an inside the arc scorer, Jimmy Boeheim scored 10 first half points and ended the game with 28 points. 18 of his 28 points came from behind the arc.
“I thought we played with a tremendous purpose today,” Jim Boeheim said
This was especially true with Jimmy Boeheim. He played for something bigger than himself.
“I was playing for this kid (Buddy Boeheim) today. You know, just wanted to do everything I could to get him one more and to get our team one more,” Jimmy Boeheim said.
“I knew I was going to have to be aggressive, missing the leading scorer in the conference, just trying to pick up where I could and just do everything I could on both ends.”
Cole Swider, the star of Wednesday’s game against Florida State, had a rough afternoon. Although he made some timely shots, he was held to 15 points on 4-15 shooting.
Every other player on Syracuse was held below double figures in scoring.
As for the Blue Devils, they appeared to lose themselves as the Orange made their first half run. After making four early threes, they couldn’t seem to buy one for a long stretch. But a few Syracuse fouls and turnovers kept the young and highly-touted Blue Devils within arm’s reach.
Jeremy Roach, a former McDonald’s All-American, was the X-factor in the Blue Devils’ victory. The sophomore guard made a few timely shots, including a dagger 3 off of Jimmy Boeheim’s late game turnover to give them a 85-79 lead with 1:07 seconds left in the game.
Roach’s teammates Wendell Moore Jr. (26 points) , Mark Williams (15 points), Trevor Keels (14 points), and Paolo Banchero (10 points) all joined him in double figure scoring.
The Blue Devils will be awaiting their seeding and opponent for Selection Sunday while the Orange will look to decompress and look forward to next season.