When historians go back and look at this game, they may not be able to discern between bad offense and good defense as the reason for the final score. Right now, the easiest thing to do is point at #5 Duke getting 13 dunks among their 22 field goals as the primary difference as they claimed a 60-44 home win over Syracuse.
The offense of the Orange (18-11, 7-9 ACC) left them when they desperately needed it, as they mustered only a 31.5 percent shooting mark from the field, including a 6-for-25 (24 percent) night from three-point range, which started with a dozen misses from deep. Shockingly, the Blue Devils (24-5, 12-4) were even worse from deep, starting by missing their first 15 treys before ending the night at 2-for-18.
Duke shot 13-for-24 in the second half and owned the interior in large part due to the return from injury of Marvin Bagley III, who scored 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting from the floor, six of which were dunks.
SU hung with the hosts for the first five-and-a-half minutes, but the offense then went into the freezer, making just one of 14 shots from the floor. That barren stretch allowed the Blue Devils to fight through a scrappy Syracuse defense to sew together a 10-2 run and grab an 18-8 lead with just over eight minutes left in the first half.
The Orange then started getting work done inside, as Frank Howard assisted on two Matthew Moyer lay-ups around an alley-oop to Paschal Chukwu and Tyus Battle also fed Chukwu for an alley-oop. Duke, however, kept pace and that last Chukwu slam only brought SU back within 23-16 with a couple minutes left in the first half.
The hosts would tack on the final four points of the opening half for a 27-16 lead at intermission. Both defenses continued to shine in the early minutes after halftime, as Marek Doelzaj’s short jumper was the only score in the first four minutes after the teams returned from the locker room.
Duke got on the board with a dunk, then Oshae Brissett hit a three from the left wing for the first long-range shot from either side. That bomb drew Syracuse within 29-21.
Both teams played evenly for the next few minutes with the Orange getting within seven points on two occasions. A Moyer free throw made it 35-28 with almost nine minutes gone in the second half and two Battle foul shots made it 37-30 about 80 seconds later.
The Blue Devils then ripped the game off the hinges, rolling up a 19-5 run for a 56-35 lead just over three minutes to go. SU finally got some consistent outside shooting as Howard hit a pair of threes from the left side and Brissett added a stepback trey, but those scores wrapped around a pair of Blue Devils slams and closed the scoring at 60-44 game with just under two minutes on the clock.
Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 14 points, but shot only 4-for-12. Frank Howard was 4-of-14 from the field, but added seven assists to his 11 points. Oshae Brissett (2-for-13) had six points, as did Paschal Chukwu, who added a game-high dozen rebounds before fouling out.
Marvin Bagley III’s 19 points topped Duke. Wendell Carter Jr. was a force, posting a 16-point, ten-rebound double-double. Gary Trent Jr. and Marques Bolden each added seven points.
Wednesday night, the Orange will close the road portion of their schedule when they take on Boston College. The Orange handled the Eagles (16-13, 6-10) at home on January 24, posting an 81-63 win. Tyus Battle led all scorers in the game with 24 points, while Frank Howard added 18.
Jerome Robinson led BC that night with 21 points and Ky Bowman buried five triples en route to his 20 points. Jordan Chatman joins them for a three-guard attack that combines for just under 50 points per game and has collectively made 203 triples at a 39.3 percent clip.