No. 2 Syracuse outlasts No. 17 Duke in OT thriller
Coach K said he hoped this game would live up to its billing. It did, and then some.
Jerami Grant scored eight points in overtime to finish with a career-high 24 and Jim Boeheim’s No. 2 Syracuse stayed unbeaten, topping Mike Krzyzewski’s No. 17 Duke 91-89 on Saturday in a matchup of the two winningest coaches in Division I history.
The Orange withstood a tying 3-pointer in regulation and won before a Carrier Dome record crowd of 35,446.
“It was just a great game,” Boeheim said after career victory No. 941. “I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a better game in here where both teams played at such a high level. Both teams just went after it. We’ve had a lot of games that have been here that are great. There’s never been one as good as this one.”
C.J. Fair scored a career-best 28 points as Syracuse (21-0, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) set a school record for consecutive wins to start a season. The Orange remained one of three undefeated teams in the nation, along with No. 1 Arizona and No. 4 Wichita State.
“I knew for us to win I would have to contribute offensively,” said Fair, who shot 12 of 20. “I was able to not force things once I got going. I felt I was the hot hand and my teammates kept giving me the ball.”
Grant took over in the extra period, slamming home three dunks as Duke was forced to downsize after Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson fouled out in the final two minutes of regulation.
“They were playing small. We knew we had a lot of mismatches around the court,” Grant said. “After I got the first dunk, they just kept feeding me.”
Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon beat the buzzer in regulation with an off-balance 3-pointer that tied it at 78. The Blue Devils led 87-84 with 80 seconds left in overtime before Syracuse rallied.
“Both teams played with so much heart,” Krzyzewski said. “We were scrambling a lot because of our foul trouble and our kids scrambled well. They scrambled well enough to put us in a position to win ... Just a tough loss.”
Syracuse students camped out in the bitter cold for nearly two weeks and were part of a crowd that was charged up from the start for the first ACC meeting between these longtime powers. It was Duke’s first game against the Orange in the Carrier Dome.
Parker had 15 points and nine rebounds for Duke (17-5, 6-3). The Blue Devils, who had won five in a row, get their chance to avenge the loss in three weeks when the teams meet again at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“We just needed one more play, whether it was a rebound or a shot going in,” said Andre Dawkins, who scored five points in overtime before fouling out in the final minute. “We just needed one play.”
From the moment Boeheim and Krzyzewski walked onto Jim Boeheim Court to a deafening roar and hugged at midcourt surrounded by a sea of orange, the atmosphere was electric. Singing and acting star Vanessa Williams, a Syracuse alum and former Miss America, performed the national anthem.
The game was chock full of story lines, well before the tipoff.
Two Hall of Fame coaches and good friends with a combined 1,914 wins who had only met twice before on opposing benches, each winning once. Boeheim’s signature 2-3 zone defense vs. Krzyzewski’s intense man-to-man.
Fair, Syracuse’s leading scorer, vs. Dawkins, a fifth-year senior who leads the ACC in 3-point shooting. Parker vs. Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis, two of the most accomplished freshmen in the country.
The game was tied at 78 after regulation, and there were two more ties in the extra session. Grant had three straight slams for the Orange, while Dawkins hit a follow and a 3 from the top of the key as Duke took a three-point lead with 1:20 left.
Two free throws by Ennis got Syracuse within one and two more by Grant put the Orange up 88-87 with 39 seconds left.
Duke’s Rodney Hood missed a dunk attempt against Rakeem Christmas with 12.2 seconds remaining — Hood wanted a foul but nothing was called. Two more free throws by Ennis as Jefferson fouled out made it 90-87.
Sulaimon sank a pair of free throws for Duke to make it a one-point game with 9.4 seconds left. Fair made one of two from the foul line with 5.5 seconds to go.
Duke scrambled to get off a last shot and Quinn Cook missed a rushed fling from the right wing at the buzzer as Syracuse escaped.
Grant had 12 rebounds. Trevor Cooney and Ennis each scored 14 points for the Orange.
Ennis had nine assists with two turnovers in a game in which both teams committed just eight and Christmas had seven points, 10 rebounds and six of Syracuse’s nine blocks.
Sulaimon finished with 16 points. Jefferson, Dawkins, and Hood finished with 14 points for Duke, which made 15 of 36 on 3s.
Syracuse led 38-35 at the break and Fair continued the play that made him the preseason pick for ACC player of the year.
Parker’s three-point play at 11:05 gave Duke a 56-54 lead, its first since just past the midpoint of the opening half. But just when he seemed set to spark the Blue Devils, Parker picked up two quick fouls to give him four and Dawkins was whistled for his fourth just over a minute later.
Fair responded by scoring eight points as the Orange went up 66-59 with 6:37 left. Undaunted, Tyler Thornton rescued Duke with three 3-pointers in less than two minutes and Parker’s basket underneath tied it at 70-all with 3:53 to play.
Sulaimon hit two 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation. He got a chance at a four-point play, but missed the foul shot with 47.6 seconds left.