3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 75-65 loss to No. 1 Duke

first_img Published on February 23, 2019 at 8:14 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 Syracuse (18-9, 9-5 Atlantic Coast) fell to No. 1 Duke (24-3, 12-2), 75-65, on Saturday night in front of a college basketball attendance record of nearly 36,000 fans. The Orange were led by junior guard Tyus Battle, who scored 16 points. In a game featuring two of the winningest coaches in Division I history, the Orange fell for the third time in their last four meetings.Here are three quick takeaways from the game.Near major upset on national stageA Syracuse win over a Zion Williamson-less Duke team immediately would have functioned as another NCAA Tournament resume booster. Three nights after the Orange toppled No. 18 Louisville, 69-49, they would have picked up a fourth Top 25 win this season. It would have been the second time an unranked SU team has beaten No. 1 Duke. Last month, SU beat the Blue Devils, 95-91, in overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium behind a monster game by Battle.But Battle was stymied by Duke point guard Tre Jones, one of the country’s premier on-ball defenders. He held Battle to five points at the half and 16 points in the game on 4-of-17 shooting.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe RJ Barrett showThe Orange entered Saturday night ranked 12th nationally in field-goal percentage defense (39.2 percent), coming off one of their better defensive performances of the season. They also didn’t have to defend freshman sensation Williamson, widely projected to be the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft. Duke freshman RJ Barrett, who leads the team in scoring (23.1 points per game entering Saturday), utilized crafty inside moves to score a game-high 30 points. At halftime, he had 17 of Duke’s 29 points.On several possessions, the Orange doubled Barrett in the post area. They tried to force him to his off hand, his right. And they left point guard Jones open to cover Barrett on select possessions. Yet Barrett was cooking all game. After SU cut the Duke lead to two points with just over six minutes left, the Orange played 28 seconds of strong defense. The shot clock was winding down. Then Barrett caught a pass on the left wing and knocked it down to extend the Blue Devils lead to five, quieting the Dome again. Barrett now has 20 games in which he’s scored 20 points or more, an ACC freshman record.Aside from Barrett, the SU defense largely held a potent Duke team with the best offense in the conference. Duke guard Alex O’Connell drilled five 3-pointers and had an and-1 that silenced the crowd early in the second half. While the Blue Devils weren’t close to their season average, 75 points proved to be enough to pull away to a comfortable win.Shooting woes returnLess than two weeks, North Carolina State stymied Syracuse in a 73-58 win. The Orange shot 5-for-25 (20 percent) from deep, 21-for-60 (35 percent) from the field and 11-for-22 from the charity stripe.Against the Blue Devils, Syracuse shot just 34.3 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from 3-point range. Despite four players reaching double-figures — sophomore forward Marek Dolezaj, senior point guard Frank Howard, Battle and junior forward Elijah Hughes — nobody scored more than 16 points. Yet the Dome was rocking most of the game, until a late Duke run put the game away.With about five minutes left, while dribbling at the top of the key, Howard picked up his dribble. He couldn’t find anyone open to pass to. Duke stole the ball and scored two points on a fast break, preceding another alley-oop dunk that swelled the lead to nine.Syracuse fans filed for the exits with about a minute left, the ballgame securely in Duke’s hands. Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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