The much-hyped presumptive final game between Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim did not live up the hype.
Not even close.
Unless 97-72 Duke fits your definition of close.
It was all teed up. A wily Boeheim ready to spring the trap, a raucous crowd of over 31,000 in the Carrier Dome, a Syracuse team motivated after a dismal performance in Durham last month.
And then the game started. A.J. Griffin hit a 3-pointer 19 seconds into the game, Syracuse missed a shot, Paolo Banchero hit a jumper, Syracuse missed a shot, the teams fumbled about for a bit then Banchero hit Williams inside for a couple of dunks and it was 9-0 barely three minutes into the game.
It got worse for the home team. Banchero hit two foul shots and then found Williams inside for a dunk and an and-one.
Yes, Duke’s 6-10 Banchero assisted 7-1 Mark Williams for a dunk three times in four minutes and 18 seconds, shredding Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone.
Banchero said Duke just executed the game plan.
“He’s automatic, especially in the paint around the rim. You just want to get him the ball there and he’s going to do the rest. He’s been doing that all year. We knew coming in with the zone that we’d be able to have an advantage inside and get easy buckets around the rim. We just wanted to feed him.”
It was 14-0 before Buddy Boeheim stopped the bleeding with a mid-range jumper.
Duke didn’t actually miss a shot until almost six minutes into the game and by that time it was 17-4.
Griffin, Williams and Banchero did most of the early damage on offense, while Duke harassed Syracuse into rushed shots and turnovers. Duke actually had first-half leads by scores like 31-9, 41-13 and 48-18.
Syracuse actually made a run late in the first half, outscoring Duke 11-0 to make it 51-34 at intermission.
Despite the mild slump at the end of the half Duke shot 18 for 30 in the first half, a mind-boggling 10 for 17 on 3s and assisted on 15 of 18 made field goals. Banchero had 18 points and 6 assists, Griffin 15 points and Williams 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Banchero was 4 for 5 from beyond the arc, Griffin 4 of 6.
Banchero said his offensive explosion came from “just having fun, really. I felt like the last few weeks I put unnecessary pressure on myself and was just overthinking, over-analyzing. When I play free and have fun I always play better.”
Did Syracuse do enough late in the half to get back in the game?
They scored first in the second half on a short Buddy Boeheim jumper.
Fifteen point lead.
It never got any closer. Banchero and Williams connected on another dunk and then Williams converted an offensive rebound and it was 55-36.
End of rally.
Duke cooled off from 3-point range in the second half. Who wouldn’t? But with seven-footer Jesse Edwards out with a fractured wrist, the Orange had no one who could challenge Williams inside.
Duke built its lead back to 20 and then 26 and eventually 27 before a late Syracuse field goal and the final margin.
The win leaves Duke in control of the ACC at 15-3, 25-4, one game ahead of Notre Dame in the ACC loss column with Duke holding the tiebreaker and the Blue Devils poised to move up nationally after a historic rash of losses in the top 10.
Syracuse drops to 9-9, 15-14.
This was the biggest margin of victory ever by Krzyzewski over Boeheim.
Williams ended with a stat-line to die for; a career-high 28 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, 11 for 14 from the field, 6 of 7 from the line.
Banchero ended with 21 points and 9 assists, Griffin 20 points. Wendell Moore, Jr. didn’t look much for his shot - 5 points - but gave Duke 6 assists and 6 rebounds, while Jeremy Roach had another stand-out performance off the bench with 10 points and 3 assists.
Duke out-rebounded Syracuse 38-25, shot 54 percent from the field, turned it over only six times and assisted on 26 of 35 made field goals.
Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III led Syracuse with 23 and 18 points respectively.
“It was great,” Williams said of the one-sided win. “Obviously, we were flowing pretty well on the offensive end. I thought we locked in on the defensive end, too. Offensively we moved the ball. Everybody was getting good shots. Defensively, we just communicated well.”
So, as the regular-season days dwindle to a precious few Duke is playing some of its best basketball of the season at a time when a team wants to be playing some of its best basketball of the season, hopefully peaking towards a March run with even better basketball ahead.
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- BOX SCORE (PDF)
- POSTGAME NOTES (PDF)
- COACH K QUOTES (PDF)
- DUKE PLAYER QUOTES (PDF)
Player Of The Game vs. Syracuse
This poll is closed