With bigs gone, No. 17 Duke comes up short at No. 2 'Cuse in OT
Already strangers in a strange new ACC land, Duke found itself shorthanded against No. 2 Syracuse Saturday night.
First Jabari Parker, then Amile Jefferson fouled out in the final two minutes of regulation.
Heroic shooting performances from Tyler Thornton, Rasheed Sulaimon and Andre Dawkins allowed the No. 17 Blue Devils to reach overtime, but the extra five minutes proved too much by one basket.
Syracuse took advantage of Duke’s patchwork lineup, with the unbeaten Orange scoring on all but one of their overtime possessions to edge the gutsy Blue Devils 91-89 in an ACC basketball game played before a Carrier Dome-record crowd of 35,446.
“We’re scrambling a lot because of our foul trouble,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Our kids scrambled well. They scrambled well enough to put us in position to win.”
Syracuse (21-0, 8-0 in ACC) had forwards C.J. Fair (28 points) and Jerami Grant (24 points) on the court for 85 of a possible 90 minutes between them. Their production — 52 points, 17 rebounds, two blocked shots — undermined all the guts and heart and determination Duke (17-5, 6-3) could muster.
“It was tough for us in the paint defensively,” Jefferson said. “They did a great job. We’ve got to be stronger with them crashing and going hard and just playing the way they play. We did a lot of trading baskets. That’s not what Duke does.”
The 6-9 Jefferson and the 6-8 Parker were only able to play 14 and nine minutes of the second half before finally picking up their fifth fouls and heading to the bench for good. Even under those circumstances, Parker scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Jefferson had 14 points and seven rebounds.
But with Fair and Grant scoring nearly at will inside, Syracuse built a 66-59 lead with 6:37 to play.
Enter shooting ace No. 1 — Thornton. The senior guard, who hadn’t made more than two 3-pointers in a game this season, made three between 6:02 and 4:24.
“Those are shots we’ve been practicing all week,” Thornton said. “They left me open. I had to hit them.”
Thornton’s last 3-pointer pulled the Blue Devils within a basket at 70-68.
Parker scored a basket with 3:53 to play in regulation to tie the game for the sixth time. It wouldn’t be the last.
Fair immediately converted a conventional three-point play (basket, foul, free throw) and the Orange maintained a three-point edge until Duke shooting star No. 2 — Sulaimon — struck.
His deep 3-pointer at the top of the key with 47.6 seconds left tied the score at 75. He was also fouled, but missed the free throw.
Rakeem Christmas hit one of two free throws at 38.6 seconds and, after a Duke turnover under its basket, Tyler Ennis made two free throws giving the Orange a 78-75 lead with 4.6 seconds left.
Sulaimon had one more big shot in him, though. The 6-4 sophomore dribbled the ball up the court, launched a shot with one second left and watched it sail through the basket after the buzzer sounded to tie the game at 78.
“Coach just told me to get the ball, try to push it in transition and try to make a play,” Sulaimon said. “When I crossed that floor I saw a 3 open up. I just took it with confidence. I thought it was good the whole way.”
Shorthanded in the post for overtime, Krzyzewski admitted his team had little chance of slowing Syracuse’s interior players.
“We thought in the overtime it was going to be our 3s against their 2s,” Krzyzewski said. “Overall it was a pretty good wash. That’s probably the only way we were going to win.”
Dawkins, shooting star No. 3 for Duke, took his turn. He hit a 3-pointer to open, laid in a basket off an offensive rebound, then sank another 3-pointer with 1:21 left that gave Duke an 87-84 lead.
Three Grant dunks supplied Syracuse’s offense up to that point of overtime.
Leading 87-86 with less than a minute left in overtime, Dawkins had an open 3-pointer at the top of the key. But it bounced off with 47 seconds left.
Two Grant free throws with 39.1 seconds left, put the Orange up for good at 88-87.
Duke worked the clock down and Hood found room to drive in the lane. But his dunk attempt was blocked by Christmas with 13 seconds left. Hood reacted as if there was contact on the play and Krzyzewski argued with the officials for a foul. But none was called.
“I was in a position where I had to try to dunk it,” Hood said. “I’m not going to comment on anything because I don’t want to get in trouble. That’s it. I just try to win.”
Said Krzyzewski, “We were hoping there would be contact and then you are hoping that you finish it. But it’s a helluva play. It’s a big-time play. Very disappointing. But it’s a big-time play.”
Ennis and Sulaimon took turns hitting two free throws apiece and Fair’s free throw with six seconds left gave the Orange a 91-89 lead.
Quinn Cook had one final attempt for Duke, but his shot at the buzzer misfired and Syracuse remained unbeaten.
“In the last minute of overtime we had an open 3 and we had a rim dunk,” Krzyzewski said, “so I can’t fault our guys. It’s just a tough loss.”
Jefferson and Parker watched their teammates fight to the end and beyond — counting overtime — while unable to help. They liked what they saw, despite the loss.
“The bigs were down with foul trouble and fouled out and our guys never stopped,” Jefferson said. “I commend everybody on this Duke team. It was not a lack of heart today. It was not a lack of heart.”
|No. 2 SYRACUSE 91, No. 17 DUKE 89, OT|
Percentages: FG .431, FT .706.
3-Point Goals: 15-36, .417 (Sulaimon 4-7, Dawkins 4-9, Thornton 3-4, Hood 3-7, Cook 1-8, Parker 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 0.
Turnovers: 8 (Parker 3, Hairston, Sulaimon, Jefferson, Dawkins, Hood).
Steals: 5 (Hood 2, Parker 2, Jefferson).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .574, FT .813.
3-Point Goals: 3-4, .750 (Cooney 2-2, Fair 1-2).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 9 (Christmas 6, Fair 2, Cooney).
Turnovers: 8 (Grant 3, Ennis 2, Keita, Fair).
Steals: 4 (Christmas 2, Grant, Cooney).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Karl Hess, Mike Eades, Mike Roberts.