February 2, 2014
Story and Photo by Norman Seawright III The aging Carrier Dome hosted two firsts on the first of February: the Duke Blue Devils visited to play against Syracuse for the first time, and it was the first time Syracuse and Duke met as ACC rivals. The first win went to the Orange, 91-89 in overtime. You could […]
Story and Photo by Norman Seawright III
The aging Carrier Dome hosted two firsts on the first of February: the Duke Blue Devils visited to play against Syracuse for the first time, and it was the first time Syracuse and Duke met as ACC rivals.
The first win went to the Orange, 91-89 in overtime.
You could pick any aspect of this game to talk about.
There’s ESPN’s game day crew keeping the Dome roaring starting at nine in the morning.
There’s Tyler Ennis and Jabari Parker, the freshman phenoms, whose presence and absence (when Parker fouled out) helped define the game for their teams.
You have Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski, the two coaches with the most wins in college basketball, who happen to have a strong friendship and mutual respect.
There are the students who camped out in “Boeheimburg,” just outside the dome, braving sub-zero temperatures until the university got them to agree to take a couple of overnight breaks. They got the best seats in the student section.
There’s the NCAA on-campus record 35,446 people who attended the game and the national anthem performance by Syracuse alum Vanessa Williams.
All of those are interesting stories, but it’s important to remember that two excellent ACC teams played two halves and an extra period of excellent basketball, leading to Syracuse’s best start ever.
Syracuse shook the Dome’s foundation–maybe
The Orange got onto the scoreboard early after Tyler Thornton fouled Ennis who converted both free throws in the first minute of the game, and after a layup from Rakeem Christmas, Cuse held the lead until Andre Dawkins hit a three-point shot with 11:45 to go to put Duke up 13-10.
While not the top scorer for Syracuse, Ennis showed tremendous leadership. The point guard led the team with nine assists while scoring 14 himself.
In the second half and into overtime, with Parker and Jefferson fouled out, Duke switched to a four-guard offensive; Boeheim credited Jerami Grant for his play.
“He was able to get post down low and get some buckets on the overtime,” Boeheim said.
Grant scored 24 points, and led the overtime scoring with eight points, including three dunks over a smaller defender.
Rakeem Christmas scored just seven points, but his presence on the court was felt–literally. After a thundering block against Parker in the second half, the Dome erupted into cheering that seemed to shake its foundation.
Trevor Cooney took just two three-pointers but made them both and the crowd went wild each time. Cooney had 14 points overall.
But it was Orange senior and pre-season ACC player of the year C.J. Fair who was the leader. He was all over the court all night.
“He broke out of a good solid player into a great player,” Boeheim said. “He was a great player tonight.”
Fair led scoring for Syracuse with 28 points, including one of two free throws near the end of overtime to give Syracuse a two point lead.
“It’s big,” Fair said. “Coming in this game, knowing it’s going to be one of the biggest games in history; for me to have a career night is unbelievable.”
Duke fought to the end
An emotional Krzyzewski agreed about the game being huge.
Although he was hoping for a foul when Rodney Hood missed a dunk in overtime, Coach K refused to dwell on it.
“This game is too good to talk about one play,” he said. “I’m not going there at all. You’re going there. I’m not going there.”
Standout Jabari Parker scored 15 points and five offensive rebounds (nine total), but had to watch the last two minutes and the overtime from the bench.
After Parker fouled out late in the second, the weight of the plays in the paint fell squarely onto Amile Jefferson, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds (six offensive) before himself fouling out with 31 seconds left in regulation.
The game seemed to be over when Ennis made two free throws for a 78-75 lead with five seconds left in the second half. But Rasheed Sulaimon rushed down the court, fired from the hip beyond the arc and nailed the three at the buzzer. The Dome fell silent before the crowd again swelled in anticipation of some extra minutes of play. Sulaimon recorded 16 points, leading the Blue Devils.
Rodney Hood and Andre Dawkins both added 14 points, taking numerous outside shots each to keep the Blue Devils in the game. Hood was 3-7 and Dawkins 4-9 from long range. But it was Tyler Thornton’s three straight bombs that pulled the Blue Devils back from a seven-point deficit late in regulation. Duke had 15 threes in 36 tries for the game.
What’s next for both teams
Syracuse will try to extend its best start ever (21-0, 8-0 in the ACC) hosting Notre Dame on Monday night. The Orange will be ranked No.1 after Arizona’s two-point loss to Cal Saturday night.
Duke will host Wake Forest on Tuesday.
Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpAL7-6umSY
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLrNdaJdJI
Tyler Ennis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6qLSm7esOE
Jerami Grant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqpXlsEgzHQ
Trevor Cooney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBaZ-pki_Lw
C.J. Fair: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBaZ-pki_Lw