Duke 66 Syracuse 60

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 22: C.J. Fair #5 of the Syracuse Orange is called for a charging foul as he collides with Rodney Hood #5 of the Duke Blue Devils during the final minute of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium - Grant Halverson

Ok, now it's a rivalry.

People will understandably have differences on the last call of the Duke-Syracuse rematch, but this much is certain: the intensity between the two teams just got jacked way, way up.

Let's start at the end. Though after the game, Boeheim said that "I just thought that was the worst call of the year, that's all. I just hate to see the game decided on that call."

Except of course that it didn't.

If he hadn't blown his top, Duke would have brought the ball in and given Duke's horrible free throw shooting Saturday night, you'd have to feel good about your chances.

The unfortunate second half reality is that until Quinn Cook hit his second pair of free throws, no one from Duke hit both of theirs.

You'd have to think that with a foul, and a chance at the ball back, not to mention one of the finest clutch players in recent memory on your side in Tyler Ennis, that you wouldn't dismiss your chances.

But really, as Jay Bilas said on ESPN, the game ended when Boeheim charged the court. It didn't have to, but his ejection led to four foul shots and Duke had possession. Syracuse fouled Tyler Thornton, who, naturally, made one and missed the other.

Look, if Dean Smith taught the ACC anything after tormenting the league for decades, it's this: anything's possible. Most things are unlikely, but anything's possible.

We remember the Walter Davis game, Jason Williams' Miracle Minute at Maryland, the Gene Banks shot and Dante Calabria winning a game over Duke while falling, quite literally, on his ass.

We also remember Butler very nearly hitting a miracle of its own to steal the 2010 National Championship away from Duke.

So let's dispense with the idea that the game was over. Of course it wasn't over.

Actually, in the press conference, Boeheim praised the officiating and when someone laughed he made it clear he was serious.

Not to get off on a tangent, but the charge was drawn by Hood. When the teams played up there, Duke partisans generally felt like Hood was fouled on his  late dunk. Not that it matters at this point.

As Boeheim also suggested, the call and his reaction overshadowed a very fine, very intensely contested game.

Marshall Plumlee had what we saw as his coming out party in the first half. Hobbled by foot problems until very recently, we are now seeing a vastly different MP3. Plumlee has always offered a huge body in the post, but now he's showing quickness and basketball intelligence too.

The best thing about his first-half play, though, was when he got into a jostling match with Rakeem Christmas.

For all his virtues, Amile Jefferson is just not physically equipped to do that. Plumlee is though and he gave it right back to Christmas, who seemed a bit surprised that he could not budge his opponent.

Plumlee played little in the second half and left the court for a time, though he later shot back to the bench and gave Coach K the thumbs up.

Post play (Syracuse's big men picked up eight fouls,  pretty much the opposite from the first game) wasn't the only difference. This game was much more of a defensive struggle than the last one. Syracuse shot just 38.7% and Duke limited guards Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney to 3-18 and 13 points.

And while Ennis had some brilliant plays, as you might expect because the guy is a prodigious mental talent, he didn't dominate from the point.

Cooney, a dynamite three point shooter, didn't get a single trey.

Most of the damage came from forwards CJ Fair and Jerami Grant, who combined for nearly half the team's 60 points (29).  They combined to shoot 14-27.

Something we didn't realize at gametime: Baye-Moussa Keita blew away the normal rebounding ratio, grabbing eight offensive and just one defensive.

For Duke, Jabari Parker had 19 points and 10 boards, while Hood finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, one offensive.

Rasheed Sulaimon had eight points, seven assists and four boards. Quinn Cook hit just 2-10 but they were critical threes.

Plumlee played 19 minutes, was 2-2 from the floor, had five rebounds and three blocks. And as we said above, he was one rough, tough customer. He gave Duke an element it's missed since last year when his brother Mason provided a powerful inside force. The coltish player we saw earlier this year is still there, but the mature Marshall Plumlee is showing through as well.

For Syracuse, this is unquestionably a tough loss. The Orange have lost two in a row and now first place in the ACC as well.

Syracuse now has to go to College Park on Monday to play Maryland. We would (and do) favor them, but Maryland folk are openly viewing Syracuse as a sort of Duke surrogate. It's amazing really: as much as they claim to hate Duke, the idea of not playing Duke is proving very hard to accept.

On Saturday, Syracuse goes to Virginia for a major showdown. If Virginia wins, the 'Hoos still have to deal with Maryland at Maryland in the Terrapin's final ACC home game.

Meanwhile, Duke has Virginia Tech and Wake at Wake before the rematch with UNC.ore to come.

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