This game lived up to all the hype, and the Syracuse Orange beat the Duke Blue Devils 91-89 and improve to 21-0, their best start in program history.
In front of a record crowd of 35,446 at the Carrier Dome, the second ranked Orange needed overtime to knock off the 17th ranked Blue Devils. C.J. Fair led all scorers with a career-high 28 points on 12-20 shooting. Jerami Grant also had a career-high with 24 points and added 12 rebounds. Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis added 14 points each. Rasheed Sulaimon led a balanced Blue Devil attack with 16 points on 4-7 three-point shooting.
The Orange came out hot and the Blue Devils came out firing from long range. The Blue Devils went 6-18 from three in the first half, but the Orange shot 13-24 and 10-10 from the free-throw line, giving them a 38-33 lead heading into the break. The second half was a back and forth battle. The Orange took a 66-59 lead with 6:40 left, their largest lead of the game. After that, Duke went on a run of their own and tied the game at 70 on a layup by Jabari Parker as he was fouled, though he missed the free throw. An and-one layup from Fair and a clutch jumper by Ennis had the Orange up by three, while in between those plays Parker committed his fifth foul on the offensive end, leaving Duke without one of their best players. But a three and the foul from Sulaimon tied it at 75 with less than a minute left, but he too wasn’t able to convert the free-throw that would have given them the lead. Three Orange free-throws gave them a 78-75 lead with five seconds left, when Sulaimon beat the buzzer with a game-tying three, forcing overtime.
Duke had the lead for most of the overtime period, despite being without Parker and Jefferson, who also fouled out. The Orange, however, didn’t go away and Grant took advantage of a defensive mismatch against Andre Dawkins, scoring eight of the teams 13 overtime points. With six seconds left, Fair hit one of two free throws, giving Duke another chance, but Quinn Cook’s shot missed, and the Orange hung on to win.
The Orange shot 57 percent on the game including an 81 percent show from the free-throw line (26-32).Duke shot just 43 percent from the field, but connected on 15-36 three-point attempts. The Orange also out rebounded the Blue Devils 38 to 33 and protected the rim very well with nine blocks, six coming from Rakeem Christmas.
These two teams meet again on February 22nd at 6 p.m. ET at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Orange play their next game on Monday night against Notre Dame. Tip is at 7 p.m. ET.