Each Thursday over the summer, The Juice Online has been counting down the top 10 moments in the 2013-14 basketball season. We finish our countdown with No. 1, Syracuse’s 91-89 overtime win against Duke on Feb. 1.
WHAT HAPPENED: Rarely does a game with so much hype live up to its billing. Syracuse’s memorable 91-89 overtime win over Duke was the exception to that rule.
With Super Bowl weekend an overall disappointment with the Seattle Seahawks dismantling the Denver Broncos, the Orange and Blue Devils provided all the drama the weekend needed.
Jerami Grant finished with a career-high 24 points — including eight in the overtime period — as Syracuse stayed undefeated with a 91-89 win at the Carrier Dome in front of a record crowd of 35,446. Each fan in the stands got their money’s worth, watching a pair of Hall of Fame coaches go against each other for the first time as members of the ACC.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a better game in here where both teams played at such a high level,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Both teams just went at it.”
The game was so tightly contested that Betfair couldn’t decide a favorite.
Said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski: “Both teams played with so much heart.”
Syracuse seemed poised for a win in regulation, leading 78-75 after Tyler Ennis hit a pair of free throws with four seconds left. But Rasheed Sulaimon beat the buzzer, hitting an off balanced 3-pointer to send the game into an extra frame.
But SU had a clear advantage going into overtime with Duke’s two big men, Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson, both fouled out. Syracuse repeatedly went inside to Grant, and he responded with three straight dunks.
“They were playing small,” Grant said. “We knew we would have a lot of mismatches on the floor, especially inside.”
CJ Fair led the Orange with a career-high 28 points, including the final free throw of the game. The Orange narrowly beat the Betfair spread.
“It was a great atmosphere, and it was a big part in us coming away with such a big win,” Fair said. “It feels like the rivalry has been going on for 30 years already, so I’m looking forward to all the games to come.”
WHY IT’S NO. 1: Syracuse’s most anticipated regular season game of the 2013-14 season lived up to the hype, with a highly entertaining back-and-forth battle that was highly contested right from the tip. It was a fitting way for the 21-0 Orange to improve to its best start in school history and will live on as one of the best regular season games in Syracuse history. Neither team led by more than six points, and the game wasn’t decided until the final buzzer. With the Syracuse win combined with then-No. 1 Arizona losing, it opened the door for the Orange to move to the top of the rankings.
Check out our entire top 10 countdown of 2013-14 Syracuse basketball’s best moments.