4 takeaways from Syracuse basketball’s 97-88 loss to Duke

Marek Dolezaj Duke
Feb. 1, 2020; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Marek Dolezaj (21) drives against the Duke Blue Devils during a 97-88 loss. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Syracuse dropped its second straight game, falling to Duke at the Carrier Dome 97-88 on Saturday evening. Here are four takeaways from the game.


As a team, Syracuse shoots 34.7 percent from downtown, making it one of the better shooting outside teams in the ACC.

But the Orange struggled in that department on Saturday, hitting just 6-26 from beyond the arc.

The Orange normally gets steady contributions from its “Big 3” of Elijah Huhges (35.9 percent from 3), Buddy Boeheim (39.9) and Joe Girard III (33.8). But none of them shot the ball well.

It was particularly nightmarish for Hughes, the ACC’s leading scorer, who went just 1-9 from beyond the arc. Though he finished with 21 points, he took 19 shots to get there.

Girard (3-10) and Boeheim (2-7) weren’t much better.

“For us to win Elijah has got to shoot better, from the 3, and he had a good night but he’s got to make some of those. Buddy’s got to make a couple more,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Joe’s got to make a couple more. We have to score a lot of points. Duke’s going to score points against us and we can’t stop them so we’re going to have to score a lot of points to beat them.”


Despite the struggles of Syracuse’s top three scorers, the Orange managed to pull within 79-74 with 3:10 to go thanks to a monster effort from Orange forward Marek Dolezaj.

He led Syracuse with 22 points to go with six rebounds, two assists and a steal. He’s now scored in double-digits in four of his last six games, and is averaging 10.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists on the season.

» Related: Duke holds off feisty Syracuse team down the stretch

“He’s playing great,” Boeheim said. “He stays out of foul trouble he’s doing a lot of things. He’s passing and he’s driving. He’s a really good player.”


The stat line will show that Syracuse freshman forward Quincy Guerrier put in another yeoman’s effort in the loss, finishing with seven points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.

But Boeheim wants even more from his Canadian forward.

Guerrier struggled to score and defend inside against Duke’s big men, particularly Vernon Carey Jr., a projected first round pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.

In one particular sequences with 10:45 go to in the first half, Guerrier rebounded a Buddy Boeheim missed 3-pointer and went up for a layup. He was blocked by Javin DeLaurie.

Guerrier corralled his own miss, but missed a second chance at the rim as he was harassed by Tre Jones and DeLaurie.

Though Boeheim and the Syracuse crowd wanted a foul called, it underscored the point that Guerrier is still very much a work in progress, and needs to learn how to harness his 6’7″, 220-pound body better.

“He’s got to learn how to play against bigger guys,” Boeheim said. “He’s playing against grown men now, and he’s got to learn how to play against them, and it take time.”


Guerrier ended up fouling out after only 20 minutes, in large part because the Orange struggled to contain Carey.

The Duke big man finished with 26 points and a season-high 17 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. And it was no coincidence that Guerrier and Bourama Sidibe fouled out, and Dolezaj nearly did with four.

Carey’s only real blemish on the evening was drawing a technical foul with 18:20 left in the second half after he slammed in a lob over Dolezaj.

He let out a primal roar in Dolezaj’s direction, which drew the ire of the officials.

But otherwise, Carey helped the Blue Devils to a +6 advantage on the boards, and six of his 17 rebounds came on the offensive glass.

“Carey’s really good, he’s big and strong down there,” Boeheim said. “We gave up 40 points down there. It’s a problem, it has been all year.”

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.