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Randy Dunson (@RandyDunson) & Brian Horace Preview Duke (21-6, 10-4) – Syracuse (25-1, 12-1)

By February 22, 2014November 26th, 2014No Comments

Duke (21-6, 10-4) – Syracuse (25-1, 12-1) Preview

Randy Dunson & Brian Horace

February 22, 2014


Current No. 1/1 Syracuse travels to Durham, N.C. on Saturday, February 22 to face No. 5/6 Duke in a rematch of one of the most exciting games in college basketball this season. Syracuse and Duke met in the Carrier Dome on February 1 for game one. A record sellout crowd of 35,446 gathered to watch the two college basketball powerhouses and they were not disappointed. The Orange led by six, 68-62, with 5:33 remaining in the second half, but could not hold onto the lead and Rasheed Sulaimon’s three-pointer at the buzzer sent the game into overtime. Sophomore Jerami Grant had slam dunks on three consecutive possessions to open the extra session and the teams were again tied at 84-84. Andre Dawkins hit a three-pointer to give the Blue Devils its last lead of the game at 87-84. SU scored the next six points, all from the free throw line, to take a 90-87 advantage. After a pair of Duke free throws, senior C.J. Fair went one-of-two from the line and SU made one final stop to claim the 91-89 victory. Syracuse will finish the regular season by playing four of its final five games on the road. Saturday’s game at Duke begins a stretch of three straight away games for the Orange. SU is 6-0 on the road this season.

Duke will try to bounce back after a gut-wrenching loss at the hands of its arch nemesis, UNC, just two days ago. Duke is ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Blue Devils are 75-25 all-time when ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. The Blue Devils will face the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll for the first time since March 8, 2008 against North Carolina. Duke is 8-21 all-time against the No. 1 team. Duke’s home-court winning streak sits at 30 consecutive victories, tied for the longest active streak in the nation. Duke is 14-0 at home this season after going 16-0 on Coach K Court in 2012-13. Saturday’s game features the two winningest head coaches in NCAA Division I history.

Team Seasons Thus Far

Syracuse Orange

Boston College outscored No. 1 Syracuse 12-9 in the extra session as the Eagles handed the Orange its first loss of the season 62-59 in overtime on Wednesday, February 19 at the Carrier Dome. Trailing 56-52 in the overtime period, Syracuse scored five unanswered to take its last lead of the night at 57-56 with 1:12 left. Patrick rick Heckmann recorded the go-ahead layup with 44 seconds remaining and Lonnie Jackson hit all four of his free throws in the final 26 seconds. Still, SU had one final chance but redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney missed a desperation three with six seconds and the Orange could not get one last shot off. Syracuse, which entered the game as one of two unbeaten teams remaining in Division I, had not lost to an unranked team in the Dome since a setback to Seton Hall on January 25, 2011. SU could not overcome a hot second-half by the Eagles. After limiting BC to just six field goals in the first half, the visitors shot 52.2-percent (12-23) in the second, including 58.3-percent from long distance (7-12). For the game, Boston College finished 50-percent (11-22) from three-point range. Senior C.J. Fair led all players with 20 points and had a season-best 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the campaign. Freshman Tyler Ennis stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists and junior Rakeem Christmas had another solid outing with nine points and 11 rebounds. Hanlan tied Fair for game high scoring honors with 20 points on 4-of-9 shooting from deep. Jackson was the only other BC player in double-figures with 10 points and Ryan Anderson had nine points to go along with a game-best 14 rebounds.

Saturday’s game has Duke, the league’s top offensive club, going against Syracuse, ranked third overall and second in league games in defensive scoring average. Two of the nation’s top freshmen, Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis (11.8 PPG, 5.7 APG) and Duke’s Jabari Parker (19.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG), are among the marquee players who will take the court. SU also features senior forward C.J. Fair (16.6 PPG, 6.0 APG), while Duke counters with redshirt sophomore forward Rodney Hood (16.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG).

Duke Blue Devils

Due in part to a second half meltdown, Duke lost to North Carolina on Thursday in the Dean E. Smith Center for the first time since March 5, 2011. Duke had won back-to-back games in Chapel Hill and three of the past four road meetings in the series entering tonight’s game. The loss marked the first time since March 9, 2003, that an unranked North Carolina team beat a ranked Duke team and the first time since March 4, 1990 that an unranked North Carolina team beat a top-five Duke team. North Carolina outscored Duke 31-14 over the final 13:37 to overcome a double-digit deficit. Duke hit just 5-of-23 field goals during that stretch and missed 13 in a row. The Blue Devils held North Carolina leading scorer Marcus Paige scoreless in the first half, forcing him to miss his only two field goal attempts. Paige bounced back to score all 13 of his points in the second half, including nine in the final 10 minutes. Jabari Parker and Quinn Cook both scored 17 points for Duke, which led 51-40 with about 15 minutes left before going ice cold from the field. The Blue Devils missed 13 straight shots and went scoreless for 6 minutes at one point, helping the Tar Heels climb back in it by mixing a 1-3-1 zone with man defense. Duke shot 36 percent (11 for 31) after halftime and made 5 of 22 3-pointers for the game. North Carolina attempted 31 free throws, while Duke shot just 12. The 19-shot discrepancy was the highest against Duke this season. North Carolina hit just two three-pointers, marking the 23rd time this season Duke has held the opposition to five made three-pointers or fewer. Opponents average just 4.0 made three-pointers per game and are shooting .306 (108-of-353) against Duke this season. Duke suffered its third loss to an unranked team this season. Duke is 20-3 against teams outside of the top 25 this season and 713-114 all-time against unranked teams under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke carried a 37-30 lead into halftime, marking the 25th time this season Duke has led at the break. Duke has trailed at halftime just once in 27 games this season. Duke played its 245th consecutive game as a ranked team. The Blue Devils are 203-42 (.829) during that run, which began at the start of the 2007-08 season. Coach K fell to 39-38 in his career against North Carolina. He has won seven of the past 10 meetings against the Tar Heels.

Duke has held 10 straight home opponents to less than 70 points. Opposing teams average just 65.9 points per game on the Blue Devils’ home court, good for a +19.2 Duke scoring margin. They own an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.56:1, which would rank as the highest ratio since Duke began tracking turnovers in the 1970-71 season. The Blue Devils logged a school-record 1.51:1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, bettering the previous school record of 1.32 set in 2000-01. Duke has lost back-to-back games just once since the start of the 2009-10 season and is 24-1 following a loss during that span. Jabari Parker has a double-double in six of his past nine games and is averaging 19.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game during that stretch. Parker owns an ACC-leading 10 double-doubles this season. Rodney Hood is averaging 17.6 points per game in Cameron Indoor Stadium while shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 42.9 from three-point range. Six of Hood’s nine 20-point games have come at home, including his lone 30-point outing. Andre Dawkins needs just 13 more points to become the 63rd Duke player to join the 1,000-point club. Duke has faced the nation’s No. 1 team 16 times under head coach Mike Krzyzewski and is 5-11 in those games. Duke is 4-4 against the nation’s top-ranked team since a March 26, 1988 win against Temple. Duke has previously faced a No. 1 Syracuse team once, falling 78-76 to the Orange on Dec. 6, 1989. Duke is 8-21 all-time against the AP’s No. 1 team.


Saturday’s game will be the sixth all-time meeting between the two schools. Syracuse leads the series, 3-2. The Orange’s head coach Jim Boeheim was involved in the first meeting between the two schools back on March 12, 1966 as a player! Playing alongside Dave Bing, Boeheim, a senior at the time, notched 15 points in a 91-81 SU loss. The two schools met again in 1971 in Madison Square Garden, with Boeheim as an assistant coach, which resulted in a 74-72 victory for the Orange. It then took another 18 years for SU and Duke to meet again, as the #1 Orange traveled to Greensboro to take on the #6 Blue Devils in an ACC-Big East Challenge. Mike Krzyzewski and Boeheim were the head coaches for their respective teams. This matchup was another close one with SU coming away with 78-76 victory in the final seconds. Prior to this game and the one in February, the last SU vs. Duke meeting took place on March 20th, 1998, when the two squads met in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Blue Devils had the lead for virtually the entire game, but SU went on a big second half, but Duke prevailed, advancing to the Elite 8 with the 80-67 victory.

In terms of a few select overall season statistical parameters thus far, Duke leads in all categories except RPG & SPG, which gives the Blue Devils a slight edge head-to-head.


Syracuse 69.6 49.6 44.8 133/379 1.4 13.1 8.3
Duke 80.6 54.8 46.8 252/616 1.56 11.4 7.1


Four Factors to Winning

Both teams are evenly matched when looking at the four factors. Duke once again has a decided edge in shooting (eFG%) at 54.8 vs. 49.6 and a very slight edge in ball handling (TO%) at 14.2 vs. 14.9. Syracuse holds an advantage offensive rebounding (OR%) 38.9 vs. 33.4 and shooting free throws (FT Rate) at 42.0% vs. 40.6.


Key Points to Consider

With both Duke and Syracuse coming off of loses in games they could have won, both will be amped and ready to redeem. One of these teams will have a 2 game losing streak after Saturday, and neither team wants that this late in the season with just around the corner. Both Syracuse and Duke lost in embarrassing fashion – with Cuse losing to one of the worst teams in the ACC and Duke losing an 11 point lead and going on a 9 minute span where they could not buy a bucket. There is area for improvement on both sides. Duke it was less about x’s and o’s and more about heart, desire and pluck. They had none of this. Coach K himself and several players noted the lack of fight in this team and this is something that cannot and should not ever stand at Duke. If Duke does not rebound well against Syracuse in Cameron, it won’t matter what kind of crowd they have. It won’t matter the decibel level and it wont matter how much history is in the building or on the line. Duke will lose. Duke has to do the little things like boxing out, and getting after loose balls. Rodney Hood is a captain on this team, he needs to show Coach K in more ways than just the scoring column that he is that captain.  As a guard/forward hybrid and at standing 6’8 Hood, in my opinion, needs to crash the offensive glass more. There are too many screen caps and highlight packages of shots going up and Rodney either out of position or watching the shot instead of reacting as a rebounder should. It’s not just on Hood, others in blue need to bring that every night. You play the game with passion or you die from a lack of it.

Rebounding, points off turnovers , the assist to turnover ratio, foul problems and second chance points are all things to watch in this rematch. Duke needs to win or draw even on them all.


We hope we’re not wrong in giving Duke a slight edge in this game, Syracuse is probably the most disciplined team in the nation next to Arizona and Duke will have to bring it’s A-game in order to win this game Duke will need to hit the drawing board when it comes to figuring out the zone and as seen in the UNC game, chucking up hail Mary’s will not get the job done. High post passes to shooters and even pass faking to get the defense to react could open up a seam to get to the basket. Duke will need to have Parker and Jefferson on the floor and not in foul trouble to win this game. Defensively this team needs to show that it has bought in to what Coach K is preaching and execute.