Record-breaking crowd watch Orange fall to Duke
With star Zion Williamson nursing his injured knee on the bench. Duke’s other star and an unlikely hero got the top-ranked Blue Devils back on the winning track.
Freshman forward RJ Barrett had a triple-double and double-double in Duke’s previous two games. Again, he scored 30 points to help fill the void and Alex O’Connell had a career-high 20 in his first start of the season to lead Duke to a 75-65 against Syracuse. There was an attendance of 35,642 at Carrier Dome. Meaning it was the largest ever for a college basketball game at an on-campus arena.
Things got off to an emotional start. With Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim making his first public appearance since being involved in a fatal traffic accident three nights earlier. The 74-year-old Hall of Fame coach shared an embrace with his friend and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on the sideline before taking his usual spot on the Orange bench.
Once the game started, it seemed like just another tilt featuring the two winningest coaches in NCAA Division I history. Except for the massive crowd that made the dome’s walls shake every time the Orange scored. The Blue Devils (24-3, 12-2) improved to 7-0 on the road in the ACC.
Because of the win, Duke gained a measure of revenge for their loss to Syracuse earlier this season.
In the first game between the teams, the Orange (18-9, 9-5) pulled off the upset. In the form of a 95-91 result at Cameron Indoor Stadium. During this match-up Tyus Battle scored a season-high 32 points and Syracuse used its 2-3 zone defense to rattle Duke in overtime.
Swingman Cameron Reddish was out with an illness and point guard Tre Jones suffered a shoulder injury roughly 5 1/2 minutes in. Therefore putting Duke down two starters in that one. It was a completely different team. Just like it was on Saturday without injured freshman star Zion Williamson, who had a season-high 35 points in that first game.
Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 16 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Elijah Hughes had 12. While Marek Dolezaj and Frank Howard had 10 apiece. As the Orange hit only 1 of 11 3-pointers in the decisive second half.
“Our offense is really the difference,” Boeheim said. “They’re going to score points. Because they’re a tremendous offensive team. If you can hold them in the 70s. That’s a pretty good effort because offensively we didn’t get the movement we need to. Therefore, we didn’t make shots when we got them.”
Also freshman Orange guard Buddy Boeheim, the coach’s youngest son, the whole night was a moment that forever will be etched in his mind. “When he first came out, it was just a great moment for the community, a great moment for him,” Buddy said. “It was just great having him there. Because you obviously want to win. But it’s more than basketball sometimes.”
The game set a record for an on-campus basketball game, eclipsing the mark of 34,446, twice against Duke.
Williamson is recovering from a sprained knee. Duke was crushed at home, 88-72, on Wednesday night by No. 8 North Carolina after Williamson was hurt on the game’s first possession.