A quick take on Syracuse’s deflating and one-sided 79-59 loss to No. 6 Duke Saturday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium, in chilly and wintery Durham, N.C.:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse (9-10, 3-5) dropped to 2-5 all-time at Cameron, falling behind 8-0 early with turnovers on four of its first five possessions, and the game snowballed from there. Duke (15-3, 5-2) led by 14 at halftime after SU shot just 2-for-16 from beyond the arc, while the Blue Devils hit 7-of-15 from long range, and it got even worse in the second half. Duke led by as many as 31 in the final 5:00 and finished shooting 47% and dominated the boards (45-35 rebound margin), while Syracuse shot just 36% overall in putting up its second fewest points in a game this season.
ANALYSIS: The two winningest coaches in NCAA Division I history (2,277 combined victories) met for the ninth consecutive season, and Jim Boeheim had to frustratingly watch Mike Krzyzewski’s team pass inside and outside around the zone defense creating a bountiful of scoring opportunities, while his own team’s 3-point shooting was as cold (17%) as the weather outside. Without a consistent penetrator offensively, SU has to rely on its outside shooting and when the shots don’t fall Syracuse falls. A bright spot on an otherwise gloomy day for the ‘Cuse was the play of Symir Torrence off the bench in extended playing time (24 minutes). Torrence had four points and six assists, driving to the hoop while finding open teammates for baskets. Jimmy Boeheim and Jesse Edwards led SU with 12 points apiece. SU had lost its five previous ACC games by 5 points or loss, and all nine losses by an average of 3.5 points, until the team bottomed out Saturday with its worst 40 minute showing of the season.
HERO: Heralded Duke freshman forward Paolo Banchero took a while to get going, but was most impressive rebounding with a season-high 13 boards to go along with 15 points and four assists. AJ Griffin doesn’t get as much notice as fellow frosh Banchero, but he started off hot with 12 first half points (four treys) finishing with 15. Fellow Blue Devils big men Wendell Moore Jr. and Mark Williams dominated inside combining for 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Moore Jr. also had eight assists.
ZERO: It was a tough afternoon for Buddy Boeheim, hounded defensively much of the game by Moore Jr. Buddy went scoreless in the first half (0-7 FGs / 0-5 on 3 point shots), and didn’t score his first points until the 9:39 mark of the second half. He finished with his second-lowest point output in a game this season with seven points on 2-of-15 / 1-10 shooting, and Buddy only played a season-low 32 minutes, which also occurred in November’s 89-68 loss to Auburn in the Bahamas.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse stays on the road in the ACC with a game at Pittsburgh this coming Tuesday night, January 25. The teams have already played once this season, with the Orange coming up with a 77-61 victory in the Dome on January 11 behind the combined 42 points from Buddy (24) and Jimmy (18) Boeheim. Pittsburgh (7-12, 2-6) was routed Saturday night at Clemson 75-48. Game Time: 8:00 p.m. ET. TV: ACC Network.