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Next Up - Syracuse

Tyler Ennis leads the 'Cuse into Cameron.

After the UNC game, Duke is trying to pick things back up.
After the UNC game, Duke is trying to pick things back up.
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

It's a very quick turnaround for Duke after losing to UNC in an ignoble fashion as ACC newbie Syracuse makes its inaugural trip to Cameron Saturday evening.

It's a tough job: not only is there the first Syracuse game to live up to, the UNC game was dispiriting in a way Duke doesn't see very often.

And while in some ways it's good that Syracuse lost, in some ways it's not. Both teams are going to come in a bit angry.

For Duke, the immediate key is not to let what happened at Carolina happen again. Secondary to that are two goals: 1) stay out of foul trouble - Duke would have won at Syracuse had the Devils been able to guard in overtime and 2) do something with Tyler Ennis.

The freshman has been sensational, and especially in the last four minutes of games. He's made mistakes, but with the expection of the BC game, he's made up for them. He's just tremendous.

But of couse, Syracuse also has Trevor Cooney, who makes it really difficult to double Ennis, as he's a superb and shamless three point shooter, although he's not shooting nearly as well in conference play.

CJ Fair, the pre-season ACC Player Of The Year, is a very smart, very skilled forward who lit Duke up for 28 up there. Jerami Grant is at the other forward and he hit for 24.

Duke may also encounter a very irritable Rakeem Christmas: the Orange center is somewhat redfaced after being lambasted by Jim Boeheim for a weak effort against BC.

Syracuse may have a trouble with numbers though.  Against State and then BC, Boeheim only went seven deep, and against BC, the bench only played 17 minutes and came up with three three assists, three fouls and two steals, all by Michael Gbinije.

Gbinije is the only transfer out of Duke we can recall who came back with his new team. He didn't leave under really bad circumstances and things worked out okay for Duke without him, so it doesn't seem like it's going to be a big deal.

More interesting is his own reaction. He's played more at Syracuse, 13.2 mpg, than he did at Duke, and he's in the rotation, but he hasn't been as dynamic as we thought he could have been.

We don't know if Duke will win Saturday or not. But we do know that this game is big on many levels. There's the first trip to Cameron. Then there's the epic game we saw up there. And there's the bad taste the UNC game left.

What we'd say here is that while the win is the main thing, just as important is that Duke play hard. If it's a ferocious game played with immense heart, passion and courage, and Duke loses, it's not the end of the world. But if it's a weak effort, win or lose it's not a good sign.

It's time for Duke to be Duke and Cameron to be Cameron.