Posted on: September 16, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

first_img Published on February 24, 2018 at 8:33 pm Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TR DURHAM, N.C. — As Syracuse players traipsed off the floor for the last media timeout, the blue writhing mass of Duke’s body-painted student section reached deep down on the paper sheet of insults they had prepared for this game and chose one they hadn’t used before.“N-I-T!” they screamed. “N-I-T!”The final buzzer was all but a formality.Syracuse (18-11, 7-9 Atlantic Coast) had executed its game plan almost exactly as it wanted to, and No. 5 Duke (24-5, 12-4) still crushed the Orange, 60-44, on Saturday evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Duke students’ chants provided the Orange with a grave reminder of where this season could end up if SU can’t pick up a signature win and shove itself off the NCAA Tournament bubble in its final two games, on Wednesday at Boston College and then next Saturday against Clemson.Having a chance in either of those games involves rebounding from this, one of SU’s worst offensive performances of the season. SU’s big three scorers of Frank Howard, Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett to combine for only 29 points and made more turnovers (11) than shots (10).AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Both teams really struggled to shoot the ball tonight,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said, “but they made them inside. That was the difference in the game.”Both teams combined to shoot less than 37 percent from the floor and missed about their first 24 3-point attempts — Duke missed its first 15 — and bully-ball was the most valuable form of offense available.The Blue Devils’ Wendell Carter, who was implicated in Yahoo Sports’ recruiting scandal report Friday and cleared by Duke later that day, and Marvin Bagley III, who returned from a four-game absence with a knee injury, bruised through a thin Orange frontcourt to rack up points and pin Syracuse center Paschal Chukwu in foul trouble.“(Syracuse took away) our shots we normally have, the 3s and the inside shots,” Bagley III said, “so, we had to figure out different ways to score. Most of mine were dunks.”Often, Battle said, the defense did exactly what it wanted in forcing Duke’s perimeter players — Trevon Duval, Gary Trent Jr. and Grayson Allen — off the 3-point line, but Bagley III “can just jump over everyone and finish it.” Bagley III and Carter finished with 35 points, more than half the Blue Devils’ total.“They could just throw it down to (Bagley III and Carter) and they could just score around the rim,” Battle said. “They were the difference.”The Orange couldn’t take advantage of Duke’s off offensive night — the Blue Devils average 87.2 points per game, third in the nation — because it faced a 2-3 zone defense for an entire game for the first time this season and that threw SU off, Brissett said.But this was the game plan. Battle said the team knew they would face a zone, but SU couldn’t exploit it. The Blue Devils pushed up their guards higher than Syracuse expected, and the athletic forwards anchoring the scheme trapped wings high and swallowed up any offense they tried to create from the middle of the zone. SU tried to solve it by running a variety of looks in the high post, along the baseline and with different high-ball and down screens, but nothing consistently worked.Even when Syracuse did get open looks from mid-range, with forward Marek Dolezaj in the short corner or Brissett in the high-post, Duke didn’t rush out and allowed Syracuse to shoot. The Orange never made them pay. When asked why Syracuse couldn’t beat a defensive scheme it plays more than anyone else in the country, that it faces every day in practice, Brissett shook his head.“The guys (in practice) are not Duke players,” he said. “It’s completely different. We’re better once we move the ball around. Once we stand around, we’re not at our best.”In the first half, SU’s only reliable offense came on alley-oops from Howard to Chukwu, and the three such plays accounted for nearly half of the Orange’s offense in the frame. After the break, Brissett said, Duke took away the lob and Chukwu got into foul trouble. With shots not falling, with Duke blocking a way to penetrate the zone for easier looks, with a team reliant on one-on-one drives to create offense, the Orange was essentially doomed.In his press conference, Boeheim said, “I don’t think (Duke) coach (Mike) K(rzyzewski) should really be allowed to play zone. I think something should be said about that.”The room was silent. Boeheim paused for a beat.“It was a joke,” he grumbled.Even though Syracuse ran Duke’s guards off the 3-point line, they still attacked relentlessly in other ways.Late in the first half, Duval, who Gerry McNamara recruited to SU, reached around Chukwu after he secured an offensive board and poked the ball away. Boeheim thought it was a foul. When Duke subsequently picked up a foul and went to the free-throw line, a livid Boeheim reddened in the face and screamed, “Bullsh*t!”The Duke student section noticed and egged him on, remembering the first time these two teams played here as members of the ACC and Duke beat then-No. 1 Syracuse and Boeheim ripped off his suit jacket in frustration.“Take your jacket off!” they screamed.Throughout the second half, as his team inched closer but seemed to step on its own shoelace every time it had a chance to start a run by turning the ball over or missing an open look, Boeheim became visibly more frustrated. Early in the second half, Syracuse trailed by eight and, after forcing two Bagley turnovers inside, it fumbled away the ball both times soon after crossing midcourt.Boeheim got the jacket halfway down his arms before composing himself and sliding it back on.Slowly, the Orange tried to claw back into it against the Blue Devils. Brissett hit the game’s first 3-pointer midway through the second stanza and then Howard drew a foul, hit one of two in the Orange’s first trip to the line and then hit another floater. But Syracuse never meaningfully decreased the deficit, which hovered between eight and 12 points.With about nine minutes to go, the Orange seemed to make its break. SU freshman center Bourama Sidibe blocked Duval on a drive and Battle was fouled to give the Orange a one-and-one. He hit both, and Syracuse bounded back on defense with some swagger for the first time all night.Battle shimmied his shoulders. Brissett clapped hard. Howard chawed his gum and nodded before flashing a quick grin at the oncoming offense. It was a moment of hope before Duke hit its first 3 and started a rout. Before Chukwu fouled out with 12 rebounds and left his backups to fend for themselves against a ferocious frontcourt. Before Syracuse ran out of whatever chance it had.Staring at a defiant Howard, Grayson Allen quickly worked the ball around and Duke dumped the ball once again inside to its big men. This time it was Marques Bolden, who spun off his defender and launched himself toward the hoop. At the same time, Matthew Moyer rose up for help defense in a way that looked a little familiar.This time, though, Moyer couldn’t come up with the same magic as an earlier block on Bagley. He couldn’t reject the Blue Devil intent on a spirit-crushing dunk. He couldn’t do anything but put his arms up as Bolden skied over him to thunder it down. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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