Syracuse upsets Duke, getting big games from Battle and Chukwu

Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim coaches Syracuse Orange guard Tyus Battle (25) during the first half. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “volatile” as the Syracuse men’s basketball team.  Just over 48 hours after a disappointing loss to Georgia Tech at home, the Orange rallied from an early 12-0 hole to knock off #1 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium in overtime, 95-91.  After getting blitzed in the first three minutes of action, SU (12-5, 3-1 ACC) fought their way back, eventually knocking off the Blue Devils (14-2, 3-1) in extra time.

After a disastrous start where they missed their first three shots and added three turnovers, Syracuse righted their ship and finished the game shooting 43.8 percent from the field and an even 44 percent (11-of-25) from long range.  The defense tightened up, as well, holding Duke to under 39 percent shooting overall and a meager 9-of-43 (20.9 percent) from deep.

With the Orange in a quick 14-2 hole, Tyus Battle led a 13-4 run to nearly even the score.  Battle turned aggressive quickly, making a pair of jumpers to trigger the spurt.  Following an Elijah Hughes three, Battle continued pouring it on, chasing a Duke jumper with a bucket and a three-point play to bring SU within a deuce.  Battle then added a triple after a Duke score, clipping the deficit to 18-17 less than eight minutes into the game.

The Blue Devils kept control, making the lead as large as six, but Syracuse kept fighting back, eventually riding another Hughes triple and two Battle foul shots to tie the game at 29 a side two-thirds of the way through the first session.

Battle would nudge the Orange in front 90 seconds later with a pair of free throws and another Hughes trey would give SU a 42-39 lead with less than four minutes in the opening half.

Duke responded with a half dozen points to go in front and their lead held the rest of the half, even with Hughes connecting on a heave of around 80 feet before the halftime buzzer that drew Syracuse within 49-48 at the break.

Oshae Brissett scored in the opening minute of the second half to put the Orange on top, but Duke quickly reclaimed the lead.  The Blue Devils eventually stretched the margin out to eight points about seven minutes into the second half.

SU, however, did not go away.  Paschal Chukwu shaved the lead to seven with a foul shot. Frank Howard got a lay-up to make it a five-point game and a three-pointer 90 seconds later to bring Syracuse within 72-70.

With under eight minutes left, Brissett connected from long range to trim the lead to 76-75.  The squads traded scores until Chukwu scored a pair of buckets two minutes apart for an 81-80 Orange lead with just over three minutes remaining.

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The teams continued swapping the smallest of leads until a Blue Devils foul shot knotted the game at 85 with 17 seconds to play.  Battle took a three-pointer for the win, but the shot missed and overtime loomed.

SU won the opening tip of overtime with Hughes racing to the basket for a lay-up, staking the Orange to a quick lead.  Duke answered on the ensuing possession, but Battle stuck a jumper to put Syracuse back in front.

Two minutes later, Howard made a steal and roared in for a lay-up and a 91-88 lead.  The Orange mustered a stop and Chukwu was fouled grabbing an offensive rebound on the next SU trip.  The center dropped in a pair of free throws, making it a 93-88 game.

Duke answered with a three, but Chukwu dunked on the next Syracuse possession, making it 95-91.  The Devils missed two threes and Chukwu cleared the glass, drawing a foul along the way. Chukwu missed a free throw with six seconds left, but it was academic, as the Blue Devils missed a final triple try and the center claimed the final rebound.

Tyus Battle was a force for the Orange, rolling up 20 of his 32 points in the first half to keep the Orange afloat along with Elijah Hughes, who hit four threes in the first half as he piled up 18 of his 20 points before halftime.  After struggling early, Frank Howard piled up 14 of his 16 points in the second half.  Oshae Brissett had 14 points and Paschal Chukwu had a phenomenal night off the bench, finishing with ten points, 18 rebounds, and three blocks.

Zion Williamson had 35 points and ten boards for Duke while R.J. Barrett fell one assist shy of a triple-double, finishing the contest with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists.  Alex O’Connell had four threes as he rolled up 16 points and Marques Bolden had a double-double of a dozen points and 11 boards.

Syracuse returns home on Saturday to face Pittsburgh.  The Panthers stand at 2-2 in ACC play and 12-5 overall after winning two of their last three games, including a 75-62 upset of #11 Florida State at home on Monday night.

Four different players average in double figures for Pitt, including Xavier Johnson, whose 17.1 points and 4.9 assists per game lead the team.  Trey McGowens, who poured in 30 points to lead the team against the Seminoles, backs him with 14.4 points per outing.

The Orange and Panthers will tip off at 2:00pm Eastern Saturday and the game will be televised by regional sports networks.  The telecast will also be available online at and through the ESPN app.

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About Jim Stechschulte 894 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by He currently resides in Syracuse.