Syracuse vs. Duke: Score, Grades and Analysis

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2014

The No. 5 Duke Blue Devils (22-6, 11-4 ACC) avenged their Feb. 1 loss to the No. 1 Syracuse Orange (25-2, 12-2 ACC), winning 66-60 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday.

It's the first time a No. 1 team has lost twice in the same week since 2010, per ESPN Stats & Info:

This is also the first time Duke has beaten the No. 1 team in the country since 1997:

Saturday was the second time the two have met under the ACC banner, and once again, it was a back-and-forth game that went right down to the wire. Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde compared the tilt to a boxing match:

Adam Gold of 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, N.C., thinks that the Orange are a worthy replacement for the soon-to-be-departed Maryland Terrapins as a Duke rival:

The play everybody will be talking about came with 10.4 seconds left in the game.

With Syracuse down 60-58, C.J. Fair laid the ball in to tie the game, or so he thought. The officials whistled for an offensive foul, as Rodney Hood got into position to take the charge. The call could've gone either way, and many, like ESPN's Scott Van Pelt, felt that this was the Orange's official welcome to the ACC, because no visiting team gets that call in Cameron Indoor:

To make matters worse, Jim Boeheim threw a tirade, eventually running onto the court and berating the officials. He earned himself two technical fouls and was promptly ejected from the game. CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein tweeted that it was the craziest he's ever seen Boeheim:

ESPN's Todd Grisham was one of many who felt that Boeheim's ejection all but ended the game, as Duke was awarded four free throws plus the ball to effectively close the door on the Orange:

After the game, the Syracuse head coach made no bones about how he felt about the call, per Stephen Bailey of The Daily Orange:

At least Boeheim made light of his tantrum, per CBS Sports' Gary Parrish:

It's a shame that Boeheim getting tossed will likely overshadow everything else that happened on the court, because this was a great game.

Coming into the game, Syracuse would've had to been considered the better defensive team. The Orange were giving up an average of 58.3 points a game (7th in the country), while the Blue Devils were all the way down at 92nd (67.0 points a game).

On Saturday, Duke was the team that dominated on the defensive end. The Blue Devils' defensive pressure suffocated the Orange players. As a team, Syracuse shot 38.7 percent (24-for-62) from the field. In the first matchup, Syracuse was slightly above 57 percent in field-goal percentage.

Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney in particular struggled mightily. The Orange backcourt combined to shoot 3-for-18 for 13 points. Fair was also limited to 12 points.

In the first matchup, Jabari Parker was largely befuddled by Syracuse's patented zone defense. He fouled out late, but not before scoring 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

This time around, the Blue Devils got a lot of production out of the freshman forward. He grabbed 10 rebounds and scored 19 points, making six of his nine shot attempts, including a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown.

It's the three-point shooting that Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix sees as an underrated part of Parker's game:

A put-back dunk that put Duke ahead 55-49 late in the second half also displayed how Parker can elevate above the competition, per's Matt Moore:

Parker got some support from Rodney Hood, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Rasheed Sulaimon and Tyler Thornton also combined for 16 points.

It was a real team performance from Duke, as the Blue Devils went 23-for-48 from the field.

Although the foul on Fair will be the polarizing moment of the game, it's hard to argue that Duke wasn't the better team on the night.


Key Player Grades

Jabari Parker, Duke: A-

When these two teams met earlier in the season, Mike Krzyzewski seemed to struggled with how best to utilize Jabari Parker. Late in the game, he figured it would be a good idea to have the freshman start near the top of the key and attack the basket, and the strategy paid off, until Parker fouled out.

With the trial and error period over, Krzyzewski put Parker in a position where he could succeed. Playing at home certainly helped Parker, but he was simply a more efficient scorer on Saturday


C.J. Fair, Syracuse: B-

In the first game against Duke, C.J. Fair finished with 28 points. He and Jerami Grant combined for 52 points. Grant led the Orange in scoring on Saturday, with 17 points, but Fair wasn't able to make the same contribution.

He shot a respectable 6-for-12 from the field, only finishing with 12 points. Fair did have seven rebounds to help out his team. As the leading scorer, the senior forward should have done more, though. In a game decided by such a close margin, a couple more buckets from Fair could have won the Orange the game.


Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: C-

Few Orange players were as stifled by the Duke defense as Tyler Ennis. He had almost no room to breathe on every possession. While Ennis is a freshman, he's still a key player on the team, and more is expected of such a talented player.

Ennis did salvage his performance a bit with his six assists. Although he wasn't scoring, the freshman guard was helping to set up his teammates.


What's Next?

Syracuse stays on the road for its next two games. The Orange travel to Maryland on Monday and after that, they have a date with No. 14 Virginia next Saturday. They finish up the regular season with a home game against Georgia Tech and then a road game against Florida State.

The Blue Devils only have three games the rest of the way. Duke gets Virginia Tech at home and Wake Forest on the road before welcoming in the hated North Carolina Tar Heels for the regular-season finale.


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