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Duke Shoots Past Syracuse In The Dome, 97-88

As Vernon Carey puts on his Superman cape.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse
 Feb 1, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (left) and Syracuse Orange forward Marek Dolezaj (21) and Duke Blue Devils forward Javin DeLaurier (12) react to a loose ball during the first half at the Carrier Dome.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Well, if you like foul-shooting contests, then Duke’s 97-88 win over Syracuse Saturday night was right up your alley.

But as ugly as it was at times, an ACC road win is an ACC road win and this one puts Duke at 8-2 at the halfway point of the league’s expanded conference schedule, 18-3 overall.

Syracuse drops to 13-9, 6-5.

It certainly wasn’t easy. Duke trailed much of the first half and had to overcome way-too-many turnovers (19), a season-high 29 personal fouls, even a technical foul on Vernon Carey.

And some coaching absences.

Assistant Jon Scheyer missed the game with an appendectomy.

Krzyzewski gave the update after the game.

“This morning, my assistant coach, Jon Scheyer, had the scout of the game. He was the guy who was responsible and when we were going through things this morning, he had amazing pain and we took him to the ER and we thought that it might be a kidney stone and it wound up being appendicitis. So, he had an operation at 2:15 this afternoon. We want to thank all of the medical people here that worked alongside our medical people to get that done.”

That’s not all. Nolan Smith stayed home due to a family illness.

“Nolan Smith, didn’t make the trip because his five or six-month old little girl has been in ICU for four days and she finally got out today.”

In other words, the kind of game a young team could easily have left slip away.

The home team was on fire early, while Duke struggled, missing four of its first five field-goal attempts. Syracuse led 6-1, 11-6 and 21-14.

But Carey was unstoppable and kept Duke in it.

“He really went after rebounds and in the zone, he made some moves against it that were spectacular,” Krzyzewski said. “He was outstanding tonight and he played hungry. Not that he hasn’t before, but he played really hungry tonight and we needed it.”

Duke also got key performances off the bench from senior Javin DeLaurier and junior Alex O’Connell, the kind of veteran contributions you need to come from behind on the road against 31,000 fans glad to be out of the cold.

DeLaurier (4 points) and O’Connell (2) keyed a 6-0 run that left Duke up 40-36 at the half.

Duke opened the second half with a 7-2 run and spent much of the final 15 minutes threatening to break it open. Duke led by 15, 76-61, with 9:05 left, 78-64 with less than five minutes left.

But those five minutes took an eternity as virtually every possession stopped the clock, either with a foul, a turnover or a timeout. It was like watching a major-league baseball game.

Duke lost Cassius Stanley, Wendell Moore and DeLaurier to fouls. Syracuse closed to five, with more than three minutes left.

But Duke closed it out with championship shooting from the foul line, 12 straight free throws down the stretch, 10-10 from Tre Jones and 2-2 for Stanley, both finishing three-point plays.

Krzyzewski gave Jones credit for holding the team together down the stretch.

“Our kids had to hit pressure free throws and I think that was the key. Tre Jones was also the key. I know Vernon had a great game . . . but down the stretch Tre didn’t turn it over, he hit every free throw, beat traps and got the ball back.”


Carey ended with 26 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, hitting 9-of-14 from the field, 8-of-10 from the line.

He was joined in double figures by Jones (17), Stanley (15), Matthew Hurt (12) and O’Connell (11).

Jones had six assists.

Moore—not surprisingly-struggled in his return from a broken bone in his right hand, 5 points, 5 fouls and 5 turnovers.

Marek Dolezaj (22) and Elijah Hughes (21) led the Orange.

Both teams were lights outs from the foul line, Duke 29-for-33 (88 percent), Syracuse, 28-for-37 (76 percent). But neither shot well from beyond the arc, Duke 6-for-16, Syracuse 6-for-26, including a 1-for-9 performance from Hughes.

Duke outrebounded Syracuse 41-35, which only partially made up for all those turnovers.

Boston College next for Duke, Tuesday night on the road.


Player Of The Game vs. Syracuse

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Matthew Hurt
    (2 votes)
  • 70%
    Vernon Carey
    (503 votes)
  • 6%
    Cassius Stanley
    (44 votes)
  • 1%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (8 votes)
  • 14%
    Tre Jones
    (100 votes)
  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Jack White
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Wendell Moore
    (3 votes)
  • 6%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (44 votes)
709 votes total Vote Now