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Syracuse men’s basketball: second-half woes doom Orange in 86-66 loss to #14 Duke

At least we have Maliq Brown.

Syracuse v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

DURHAM, N.C. — Despite a strong defensive performance in the first half, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team’s (10-4, 1-2) upset bid versus the #14 Duke Blue Devils (10-3, 1-1) simply ran out of steam in a 86-66 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium — the program’s first loss since December 2.

After only trailing 35-33 at halftime, Duke’s three-point shooting ignited a massive scoring run as the Blue Devils outscored the Orange 51-33 in the second half. Syracuse got most of its offensive from Maliq Brown and Judah Mintz, who scored 44 of the Orange’s 66 total points in a game where everyone else really struggled to put the ball in the basket.

Brown finished with a career-high 26 points on 11/16 shooting to lead all scorers, while Mintz ended with 18 points and 6 assists. Duke took advantage of 17 total turnovers by Syracuse and outscored the Orange 26-11 in points off turnovers. J.J. Starling chipped in 9 points on 4/9 shooting, while the rest of the team combined for just 13 points in what was the Orange’s nine-straight loss to Duke.

The combination of Mark Mitchell (21 points), Jared McCain (18 points) and Jeremy Roach (17 points) led the way for the Blue Devils. Kyle Filipowski and Tyrese Proctor also finished in double-figures for Duke.

Duke pushed the pace early on offense and got out to an early 7-1 lead, while Syracuse settled for jumpers early and struggled to finish around the rim. Judah Mintz scored the Orange’s first points after splitting a pair of free throws, while Quadir Copeland drilled a three-pointer to finally get Syracuse’s offense going.

Syracuse missed its first six shots from the floor and trailed 7-4 after the first media timeout, but both teams really struggled to put points up. Duke missed several good looks around the basket and shot 3/10 to start the game (including 0/4 from three), and a Maliq Brown fastbreak layup followed by a three from J.J. Starling allowed Syracuse to take a brief two-point lead (9-7).

Despite starting off with 4/16 shooting and seven turnovers on offense, Syracuse hung around and reclaimed a small lead (20-19) with less than seven minutes to go in the first half thanks to back-to-back baskets in semi-transition from Mintz — forcing Duke to call timeout.

The Blue Devils took as much as a six point lead multiple times during the half, but the combination of Mintz and Brown powered Syracuse enough to hang around and keep the Orange within striking distance. Syracuse entered halftime only down 35-33 despite shooting 34% from the field.

The Mintz-Brown duo combined for 24 of Syracuse’s 33 points, while Mark Mitchell’s 18 points on 6/8 shooting led all scorers and kept the Blue Devils out in front despite early foul trouble for Filipowski.

While Syracuse held Duke to a 13/35 shooting performance in the first half, nine turnovers from the Orange handed the Blue Devils a clear advantage in fastbreak points.

Both teams flipped a switch on offense to begin the second half. Filipowski scored inside on two straight possessions while Starling hit consecutive mid-range jumpers to keep Syracuse within three points of the Blue Devils. Jared McCain also drilled an early three-pointer to cut Duke’s cold spell on the perimeter.

It was the beginning of the end for the Orange. After Duke shot 0/9 from three, it caught fire and connected on seven-straight from the outside. A couple impressive dunks by Brown kept Syracuse around for a moment, but a 13-2 scoring run by the Blue Devils meant the Orange were down 62-49 with around 10 minutes left in the game (Syracuse’s largest deficit all game).

Syracuse went down by double-digits midway through the second half and it could never cut it down to single-digits the rest of the way.

Syracuse starts off 2024 with a tough loss on the road and moves to 0-3 this season versus Q1 opponents. The Orange will now get a week off and face the Boston College Eagles (9-4, 0-2) back at the Dome on January 10.