Duke handles Syracuse in latest ACC grudge match
Duke handles SU in latest ACC grudge match
A quick 11-6 start for the Orange gave them the momentum they needed to play with the ninth-ranked team in the country. Syracuse maintained a lead for most of the first half, spending over 16 of the first 20 minutes in the lead.
A late run from Duke would prove crucial to the storyline in the first period of play. Cassius Stanley may have had a relatively silent half scoring only 2 points; Vernon Carey, Jr. was by no means quiet with 12 points and 8 rebounds in the first period.
For the Orange, Marek Dolezaj had a strong and frequent impact on the first half. Whether it was drawing fouls on Duke freshman Matthew Hurt or diming back-door passes to Elijah Hughes, Dolezaj showed why he’s an integral part of the offensive scheme.
Hughes scored 10 to join Dolezaj as the other double-digit scorer in the first half. He was typically shadowed by one of two Blue Devils: Jordan Goldwire or Wendell Moore. Moore made his return to the Duke rotation tonight, missing numerous games since a Jan. 4 injury.
One could argue that the most important player for the Orange wasn’t Hughes nor Dolezaj. It was Quincy Guerrier. Guerrier checked into the game for the first time at around the 12-minute mark. He immediately had an impact on the glass. Boeheim has stressed to Guerrier that he shouldn’t be shooting threes, and he didn’t do that either. He logged three offensive rebounds to go along with seven points and an assist. The freshman made the most of his time on the court; a limited 11.5 minutes were all he got in the first period.
Despite several Syracuse players thriving offensively in the first half, the late run from Duke made all the difference. Duke went into the half with a four-point lead, 40-36.
The second half encompassed a lot of back and forth. Syracuse scored a basket, Duke hit a three. Once Duke mounted about an 11-point lead, they held much of the second half. A main point that many Syracuse fans and players had already learned through the first period: Carey is a monster. The freshman finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds.
Coach Boeheim mentioned Carey in his opening statement at the press conference. “The big kid [Carey] is really good. He’s got great hands, he’s really tough down there,” said Boeheim.
With the clock beginning to dwindle, Syracuse had somehow cut Duke’s lead to just five points with a score of 79-74. Cassius Stanley then entered the scene. One of the best athletes in all of college basketball, Stanley leaped above a couple Orange players to snatch a long pass before collecting his balance and going up with the shot. That made the lead seven. His free throw made it eight; the play’s effect on the energy surging through the Dome was more important. The crowd fell silent.
Even though Syracuse refused to go away, in that moment it felt that the night wouldn’t belong to the Orange.
Syracuse plays Wake Forest Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.