SYRACUSE (WBNG BINGHAMTON) No. 2 Syracuse converted 7-of-8 free throws and outscored No. 16 Duke 7-2 in the final 71 seconds of overtime to knock off the Blue Devils 91-89 in front of a record sellout crowd of 35,446 at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, Feb. 1.
In a matchup between the two most winningest coaches in Division I history, the Orange (21-0, 8-0 ACC) stayed undefeated and set a program record with 21 wins to begin a season. Syracuse also broke the record for an on-campus single-game crowd which it established just last year.
Duke's (17-5, 6-3 ACC) Andre Dawkins opened the extra session with a three to put the visitors up 81-78. However, sophomore Jerami Grant threw down a two-handed slam on three straight possessions to even the score at 84-84 with under two minutes to go. Dawkins answered right back with another three-ball to give Duke its last lead of the night at 87-84.
The Orange scored the next six points – all on free throws – to take its first lead of overtime at 90-87. After Rasheed Sulaimon hit two from the charity stripe to pull Duke within one, senior C.J. Fair went one-of-two from the line and SU made the final stop to claim the win.
Fair netted a personal-best 28 points on 12-of-20 shooting to go along with five rebounds and a pair of blocks. Grant put forth another career night with 24 points and 12 rebounds – both individual-highs – for his second-straight double-double and fifth this season. He also was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
Starting backcourt mates Ennis and redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney each contributed 14 points with Ennis matching a career-high nine assists. Junior Rakeem Christmas had another solid outing once again with seven points, a season-best 10 boards and personal-record six blocks.
Syracuse shot a season-high 57.4-percent (31-54) and was very efficient from the free throw line going 26-of-32 (82.9%), the second-highest total of the campaign. Duke, which was 43.1-percent (31-72) overall, finished one shy of the Carrier Dome opponent record for three's in a game, knocking down 15-of-36 attempts (41.7%).
SU won the rebounding battle 38-33, but the Blue Devils held an 18-12 advantage on the offensive end for a 22-11 margin in second chance points to stay in the game. Six blocks by Christmas helped pave the way for Syracuse's nine blocks to none for Duke.
The Orange scored six of the first eight points, but the Blue Devils went on an 11-4 run capped by a dunk from Jabari Parker and three-ball by Dawkins to go ahead for the first time at 13-10 eight minutes into the game. The teams exchanged the lead twice over the next three minutes, and with SU trailing 20-18, a Cooney trifecta sparked eight unanswered points to put the hosts back on top at 26-20 with 5:26 left.
During the next five minutes the teams traded points on each end of the court as Duke closed the gap to one on two occasions – the last coming at 34-33 - thanks to a string of three baskets from behind the arc by the Blue Devils in that stretch. Grant hit four consecutive free throws in the final minute to set the score at 38-33. However, Amile Jefferson threw down a slam just before the buzzer to make it 38-35 at
The second half played out much of the same way as the first with neither team able to find a stop for the other. Syracuse's lead fluctuated between one and five for the first nine minutes of the second half with both teams going pound-for-pound, trading scores on virtually every possession. The Blue Devils finally regained the lead at 56-54 on a three-point play by Parker with 11:05 to go in regulation.
Duke's advantage was short-lived as SU took it right back following a pair of free throws by Grant and a Fair one-handed slam. Fair took over from there, scoring SU's next eight points and 10 of 12 to extend the lead to 68-62 with 5:33 left in the second.
Tyler Thornton helped the Blue Devils inch back, knocking down three-pointers on three straight possessions to get Duke within 70-68 just over a minute later. Parker made a layup on the next trip down the court to tie the game again at 70-70.
Fair and Ennis sandwiched baskets around a pair of Quinn Cook free throws to set up Sulaimon's late-game dramatics. He nailed a shot from long distance while getting fouled, but missed the free throw to keep the score knotted at 75-75. Following three points from the line by the Orange in the final 31 seconds, Sulaimon hit another three from the top of the key at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Five Duke players reached double-figures, all finishing between 14 and 16 points. Sulaimon led the team with 16 points and six assists. Parker added 15 points and a team-high nine boards. Rodney Hood, Jefferson and Dawkins all tallied 14.
Syracuse gets right back at it with a game on Monday, Feb. 3 against Notre Dame at 7 p.m.
(Courtesy: Syracuse University)