Pounded by Duke, Syracuse falls further from NCAA Tournament field

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Feb 9, 2021; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim speaks with reporters via Zoom following Syracuse's 77-68 win over NC State.

Monday night, Duke simply delivered a beating to Syracuse, thumping them at home by an 85-71 score that does not adequately describe the difference between the two teams. The Blue Devils (11-8, 9-6 ACC) used an early 9-2 run to ensure the Orange (13-7, 7-6 ACC) would not take an early lead, then made sure they would never take any lead by dropping an 18-2 spree that ended the game before the under-eight media time out of the first half.

Duke shot 62.5 percent from the floor in the first half, including logging assists on each of their first 16 field goals. The hosts cooled off after that, but still finished the game making over 53 percent of their shots from the field and just under 45 percent from long range, connecting on 13 triples.

SU mustered a pair of runs, one in each half, to get within 14 points, but neither truly threatened the Blue Devils, particularly the latter burst of ten straight points, which ended the game.

Duke hit three treys for their early 9-2 run to seize an 11-4 lead before the game was three minutes old. Syracuse crept within five points a couple times, but the hosts ripped off ten straight points to start the decisive 18-2 run. When the smoke cleared, the Blue Devils held a 36-14 stranglehold with just under seven minutes left in the opening half.

After a couple minutes, the Orange went on a brief run, posting eight straight points. Buddy Boeheim hit a straightaway three, then added a pull-up triple from the right wing. Kadary Richmond added a putback to cap the 70-second sprint and pull SU within 42-28.

Duke, however, extended their lead over the final three minutes of the opening half and held a 52-34 lead at the break. Syracuse gradually chipped away at that lead in the early minutes of the second half, getting within 14 again on a Quincy Guerrier three from the top of the key.

The Blue Devils went off on another run shortly after, hanging an 8-0 burst to effectively end the game at 78-55 just past the midpoint of the second half. The Orange responded with a pair of lay-ups, but the hosts scored seven of the game’s next nine points to take their biggest lead of the night at 85-61 with under four-and-a-half minutes remaining.

Those would be the last points of the game for Duke, as SU replied with the final ten markers of the game, including eight from Boeheim.

Buddy Boeheim led Syracuse with 21 points, scoring 15 in the last 16 minutes of action. Kadary Richmond scored 13 of his 15 points in the opening half. Marek Dolezaj added 13 points and Alan Griffin chipped in with 11 to go with three steals.

D.J. Steward hit four three-pointers in the game, finishing with 21 points to pace Duke. Mark Williams had his first career double-double, rolling up 18 points and 11 rebounds. Matthew Hurt added 15 points and Jeremy Roach dropped in 14 points, including four long-range bombs, all in the first half.

The Orange are off until Saturday when they will take on Georgia Tech in another road game. The Yellow Jackets (11-8, 7-6) have won their last two games and play at #16 Virginia Tech on Tuesday before SU comes calling.

Jose Alvarado, Michael Devoe, and Moses Wright form a productive trio for GT, as each averages at least 14.7 points per game. The starting backcourt of Alvarado and Devoe combine for over 31 points per game and have piled up 84 three-pointers on the season as each player is shooting just under 42 percent from long range. Wright averages 16.3 points per game while leading the Jackets in rebounds (7.5 per game) and blocked shots (1.7 per game).

Saturday’s contest will be a matinee, as the two squads will tip off at 12:00pm Eastern on ESPN2.

About Jim Stechschulte 687 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, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.