Syracuse basketball’s upset bid falls short against Duke in ACC Tournament

Takeaways from SU's near-upset over Duke in ACC Tournament

The No. 9 seeded Orange led by four at halftime, and led by one late in Thursday's second half.
Published: March 10, 2022
Jimmy Boeheim at 2022 ACC Tournament at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn
Syracuse's Jimmy Boeheim hit six 3-pointers and led all scorers with 28 points at the Barclays Center.

Syracuse basketball’s season may be over after losing 88-79 to No. 1 seed Duke in Thursday afternoon’s ACC Tournament quarterfinals at the Barclays Center.

Duke scored 10 unanswered points to close the game, finishing off the No. 9 seed Orange (16-17) which played without top-scorer Buddy Boeheim. The Atlantic Coast Conference suspended Buddy for one game after striking a Florida State player during Wednesday’s contest.

His brother Jimmy Boeheim dropped 28 points against the Blue Devils. Joe Girard III scored 23 and knocked down a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to push SU ahead of Duke by four at halftime.

But Syracuse’s limited bench and lack of scoring threats caught up to them in the second half. Five different Blue Devils finished with 10 or more points. Only three SU starters scored in the double digits.

Barring a trip to the National Invitation Tournament, this marks the first losing season of Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse career. It also may have been the last stretch of SU games played by Jimmy, Buddy, and Cole Swider, who scored 15 points against Duke on Thursday.

One heck of an effort:

Syracuse gave Duke all they had. The Orange went into the break leading 40-36. Joe Girard III was unstoppable in the first frame, scoring 18 points including a buzzer-beater 3-ball right before half. The two schools went back and forth in the second half, and SU clung to a one-point lead with 3:32 left the game.

Joe Girard III balled out:

The Orange’s point guard got to play off the ball quite a bit today with Symir Torrence in the starting lineup. Torrence led the team with 11 assists while chipping in seven points.

Girard played outstanding in the first half with 18 points including 3-6 from deep. He was a threat any time he caught the ball and knocked down a handful of deep shots. Syracuse needed a big game from its guard and they got it.

What could have been:

The first time Syracuse and Duke played, both teams were at full strength. But the Blue Devils were far and away better than the Orange. Buddy and Girard both struggled, scoring a combined 2-19 from deep. In the second game, Duke practically ended the contest before it started.

This was the best Syracuse has played against a top-tier team this season. If Buddy played today, things could have been different. Syracuse’s most consistent offensive player would have at least given the Orange another scoring option, something they struggled with down the stretch on Thursday.

No dancing for the Orange:

With today’s loss, Syracuse will not make the NCAA tournament and will more than likely not play in the NIT or any other post-season tournament.

This team showed fight and heart today, but overall, the season was disappointing. Coming off a Sweet 16 run this group was expected to be a tournament team.

There will be another big turnover once again, as Buddy, Jimmy and Swider will more than likely not be back next season. Five recruits will join SU next year and give this team a batch of fresh faces.