The Duke Blue Devils came out against the Syracuse Orange like a team on a mission. Duke left no doubt after their 52 point first half that this game was over before it really began. The young Devils out of the game were hitting on all cylinders and raining 3’s against the Orange zone. Duke made 10-18 in the first half to bury the Orange with an 18 point lead at the midway point of the game. The difference in this game as opposed to earlier in this season is the Blue Devils protected the basket, they defended at a high level. That defense started with the anchor – Mark Williams who had his best game as a Blue Devil notching his first double-double. Williams blocked 2 shots but changed countless others, he also grabbed 11 rebounds – 6 on the defensive end. Offensively, Williams was a zone buster catching lobs and getting out in transition beating everyone down the court. Williams ended with 18 points on 9-11 shooting.
Overall the Blue Devils shared the ball offensively with 5 players dishing 4 assists or more led by DJ Steward who had 7 assists to go along with his 21 points and Jeremy Roach who also had 7 assist. The Blue Devils also got 15 and 14 from Matthew Hurt and Jeremy Roach respectively with Hurt adding 5 assists of his own.
Syracuse was never able to recover from their first half deficit sans a couple of runs that trimmed the Duke lead to 14. The Blue Devils recovered and despite Cuse throwing a press in the second half Duke was able to figure it out and turn it into fast break buckets.
This marks the 4th win in a row for the Blue Devils who seem to be hitting their stride. Coach K remarked in his post game presser that sometimes losing makes you older. The Blue Devils are definitely playing like a team that has learned a lot from the close loses they’ve suffered are playing their best basketball heading into waning games of the regular season.