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Syracuse and No. 7 Duke met in the Dome for Jim Boeheim’s last regular season meeting with Mike Krzyzewski in his final season. The Blue Devils, once again one of the top teams in the nation, were powered by likely NBA draft lottery pick Paolo Banchero, who led Duke to a blowout 20-point win over the Orange the last time the two teams met in January.
Since then, the Orange have managed to turn their season around going on a four-game win streak, but most recently losing to Notre Dame by 10. Today’s game against Duke was one of the Orange’s final chances of the regular season to pick up its first Quadrant I win and give them one last push for the NCAA Tournament.
But it was not to be as Syracuse (15-14, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) was blown out 97-72 by Duke (25-4, 15-3 ACC). The Blue Devils came storming out of the gate, scoring 14 straight points and 51 in the first half, while SU took almost five minutes to score its first bucket. Duke controlled the board battle inside as Mark Williams finished with a double-double inside.
Notably, Boeheim gave double-digit minutes to three bench players: Benny Williams, Bourama Sidibe and John Bol Ajak. Ultimately, no matter which players hit the floor for SU, another chance at a Quadrant I win was lost.
Here are some observations from Syracuse’s loss to Duke:
Duke’s quick start
After winning the opening tip-off, Duke came down the court, moved the ball inside and then back out to the left corner for an open 3-pointer by AJ Griffin. Soon after, Banchero and Mark began to take over down low. Banchero kicked things off with a floater but then started to play a two-man game with Mark.
First, Banchero received the ball in the high post and turned toward the basket. With just Frank Anselem standing between him and the basket, Banchero touched a pass over Anselem’s head to Mark, who just had to hop for an easy dunk. On the next possession, Duke ran the same play, except this time Banchero threw an alley-oop to Mark and the big man caught and dunked the ball for easy points.
After two Banchero free throws, they’d run the play again resulting in the same dunk play from Mark. The pair combined to score 11 straight points as Duke raced out to a 14-0 lead early in the game.
Orange show up late
On the other end of the court, Syracuse struggled to keep up with Duke. Buddy Boeheim airballed a corner 3 trying to reply to Griffin’s early 3-pointer. Jimmy Boeheim drove and had his layup swatted back toward the stands by Mark. In all, it took Syracuse four and a half minutes to score its first bucket, courtesy of a Buddy fadeaway jumper. But the Orange opened the game 0-for-7 as the Blue Devils scored 14 points in a row on the other end.
But Syracuse managed to tack on points throughout the first half, and eventually its defense found a way to slow the Blue Devils down. Duke’s final points of the first half came on a Trevor Keels 3-pointer with just over three minutes left in the first half. After that, Cole Swider hit a fadeaway jumper on the right wing. Then, Duke tried inbounding after a timeout, but when they threw it long and into the backcourt, Joe Girard III snuck in to tip the ball away and raced down the court for a layup.
Buddy then scored two jumpers and a second-chance 3 after Anselem grabbed an offensive rebound to cap off an 11-0 run by the Orange to end the half. The run helped SU trim Duke’s large lead to 17 entering halftime.
Rebounding a problem for SU
Going up against Banchero and Mark put SU at a disadvantage on the boards. In the first half, Banchero was at the free-throw line and missed his second shot. Mark fought through Sidibe to grab the offensive rebound and drew Sidibe’s second foul of the game.
The same thing happened in the second half, as this time Mark fought between Sidibe and Benny to again get the rebound and drew another foul. Mark dominated SU with a double-double, grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring 28 points. Overall, the rebounding margin between SU and Duke was 38-25.
Benny a rare spark
Benny has played sporadically throughout the season and has not played more than 10 minutes since SU’s win over Louisville at the start of February. But tonight, with Swider in foul trouble and Jimmy struggling to get anything going, Boeheim turned to the freshman to fill those minutes.
It started with Benny helping Jimmy out when the elder Boeheim brother was double-teamed in the paint. Benny cut baseline and received the pass from Jimmy before going up and under to dodge Duke defenders and lay in an athletic layup. He then drove to the paint and rose for a jumper to score again a couple possessions later. On defense, Benny used his length to tip a pass intended for the high post and created a turnover.
In the second half, Benny grabbed a missed Buddy 3-pointer and put back the miss for an easy two points. Neither Swider nor Jimmy played in the second half, allowing Benny to eventually rack up a career-high 30 minutes in Syracuse’s biggest game of the year.
The post Observations from Syracuse vs. No. 7 Duke: Blue Devils start hot, SU rebounding struggles appeared first on The Daily Orange.