Syracuse falls short of Duke sweep in front of record crowd

Duke outshoots SU in front of record Dome crowd

35,642 fans help set a new NCAA mark for an on-campus college basketball game.
Published: February 24, 2019
SU vs Duke
Tip-off with a record 35,642 fans in attendance made Saturday's SU-Duke game the most-attended on-campus college basketball ever.

There was a record 35,642 in attendance at the Carrier Dome to watch Syracuse attempt the season sweep of No. 1 Duke. The Orange fought and clawed, but Duke was able to pull away late in the second half to secure the 75-65 victory.

After sustaining a grade one knee sprain within the first minute of Duke’s matchup against North Carolina on Wednesday, Blue Devils star Zion Williamson was unable to play against SU. Alex O’Connell replaced Williamson in the starting lineup, and his 20 points were vital for the Blue Devils.

“I thought the difference in the game was O’Connell offensively,” said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. “He’s a tremendous shooter. We had a couple break downs and didn’t get to him.”

SU vs Duke

O’Connell converted a four-point play to give Duke a 45-43 lead with 15:14 left in the second half: Duke’s first lead since the first five minutes in the game.

R.J. Barrett led Duke with 30 points, shooting a very efficient 70 percent, making 14 of his 20 shot attempts. He hit a clutch three for Duke to extend the lead to five after Syracuse closed the gap to 58-56 with 6:42 remaining in the second half.

That started a 7-0 run for the Blue Devils, capped by an alley-oop from Tre Jones to Barrett to give Duke a 65-56 lead with 4:44 on the clock.

Syracuse pulled within five, the score 65-60 with just under three minutes left, and it looked like the game could come down to the wire. But that’s as close as the Orange would get.

Duke had a 67-61 lead with under two minutes left in the game, and the Orange had a chance to cut it to four.

Oshae Brissett went to the free throw line for Syracuse and missed two huge free throws. After that, SU was forced to foul and Duke made its free throws to close out the game.

SU vs Duke
Coach Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse bench argues for a call.

Duke’s ability to crash the offensive glass allowed them to control the clock and limit the opportunities for Syracuse late in the game.

Duke outrebounded Syracuse 27-16 in the second half after SU won the battle on the glass 24-17 in the first half. Ten of those 27 rebounds for Duke in the second half came on offense, which gave them multiple opportunities to put the ball in the basket.

Syracuse came out in the first half playing with energy, and a lot of that was due to the electric atmosphere from the record-setting crowd.

The crowd erupted, fans tossed balloons and stadium workers threw T-shirts into the crowd after a three by Frank Howard opened scoring for both teams.

The Loud House made noise after every made SU basket and every missed shot or turnover by the Blue Devils.

It was a back-and-forth game in the first half. The biggest lead for either team was five points.

Marek Dolezaj brought the crowd to its feet after back-to-back-to back buckets, capped off by a huge dunk.

Duke vs SU MBB
SU vs Duke MBB
Long-time friends Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski embrace after the game.

His hustle and effort were huge for Syracuse all game before he fouled out with 1:41 left in the game.

At the half, Syracuse led Duke, 34-29.

Barrett was Duke’s only offense in the 20 minutes. He scored 17 of the team’s 29 points and kept them in the game.

Cam Reddish only had two points at the half and Tre Jones was 1-of-6 (1-of-5 from three-point range) for three points. Duke was 3-of-15 from three in the first half, shooting only 20 percent.

Duke didn’t score any bench points in the first half. Not having the threat of Williamson on either side of the ball hurt the Blue Devils, and it showed offensively and on easy drives for Syracuse in the first half.

Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 16 points, Elijah Hughes followed with 12, and Dolezaj and Howard had 10 a piece.

The Orange will look to bounce back as they travel to Chapel Hill on Tuesday to take on No. 8 North Carolina at 9 p.m.

Boeheim received a huge ovation as he took the court for the first time following the tragic accident in which Boeheim hit and killed 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez with his car earlier this week. Syracuse fans and the entire Syracuse community in attendance was behind him as made his way to the floor.

“Our fans are great,” Boeheim said after the game. “I’ve been here all my life, they’ve always been supportive. I think they know how bad I feel, what I feel. And I just thought they were there to support our team and me.”

Boeheim said that events that transpired this week will stay with him forever.

“This is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.”

SU vs Duke
A moment of silence is held before the game to honor Jorge Jimenez, the 51-year-old man who died after Boeheim struck him with his car Wednesday night.