In the first meeting between Duke and Syracuse this season, Rodney Hood drove in overtime with the Blue Devils down by one. Hit on the arm, Hood did not receive the foul call and missed his dunk attempt with 15 seconds remaining. Syracuse prevailed 91-89.
So it was only equitable that this time, when C.J. Fair attacked the basket with 10 seconds remaining, down 60-58, Hood received the call. Hood absorbed Fair’s contact near the baseline, and the official whistled a charge, sending Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim into a fury.
Boeheim was ejected after screaming at the officials, and the subsequent foul shots secured No. 5 Duke's 66-60 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night.
"I just thought it was the worst call of the year, that's all. I just hate to see a game decided like that,” Boeheim said. "People will remember this one for 30 years because the old coach went out there a little bit and got excited."
Hood was critical for the Blue Devils (22-6, 11-4 in the ACC), who struggled to break through the No. 1 Orange’s 2-3 zone in the first half, which ended tied at 26. But in the second period, Hood was able to help penetrate from the foul line while Jabari Parker challenged from the perimeter.
Hood finished with 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting and did not turn the ball over, playing a team-high 37 minutes. The redshirt sophomore drawing the charge with 10 seconds left and Boeheim’s subsequent ejection gave the Blue Devils four free throws, three of which Quinn Cook hit to secure the win.
“It was my time to make a big-time play at the end of the game,” Hood said. “Last time, it could've ended either way. I’m not sure about this one, but it probably could’ve gone either way.”
Watch Jim Boeheim's ejection from Duke's victory against Syracuse:
While stars Hood and Parker struggled in the first half—with Parker committing four turnovers in the period—perhaps the unlikeliest of Blue Devils kept the team in the game: Marshall Plumlee. The 7-foot redshirt sophomore recorded four points, five rebounds and three blocks in the period, playing 15 minutes, more than fellow big men Parker and Amile Jefferson.
Plumlee played a career-high 19 minutes, unable to play for much of the second half due to cramps that sent him to the locker room for a period of time.
“We would’ve used him more in the second half, but he had cramps,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s got to get accustomed to playing more minutes, get some more fluids in him.”
Unlike the first meeting between these two teams this year when they combined for a whopping 180 points—more than any game the Orange has played this year—this game was characterized by its defense. Duke’s 66 points were the fewest they have scored in a victory this season.
After Syracuse (25-2, 12-2) hit five of its first seven shots, they finished the first half making just five of their next 28, ultimately finishing the game shooting 38.7 percent from the field. The Blue Devils, who hung with the Orange in the first game by nailing 15-of-36 3-pointers, converted on just 7-of-21 long-range attempts this time around.
But one of those would prove crucial, when Cook nailed one with 7:48 remaining to give Duke a six-point advantage, its largest all game. Cook, who has seen his minutes fluctuate lately in Duke’s crowded backcourt, made a three symbol with both of his hands as he ran back on defense and the Cameron crowd continued its game-long frenzy.
“We’ve got confidence in him—other than [Andre Dawkins], he’s our best shooter on the outside,” Hood said. “That was a big-time shot. I think that was the key to the game.”
Former Blue Devil Michael Gbinije, who transferred to Syracuse after his freshman year at Duke in 2011-12, hit Syracuse’s only two treys and scored a team-high eight points in the first half. He did not score in the final period, however, and the Cameron Crazies chanted “We don’t miss you” periodically.
Syracuse has now lost two games in a row, having fallen to Boston College earlier in the week for their first loss of the season.
“We're going to cry all the way home,” Boeheim deadpanned when asked about the two straight losses. “At the beginning of the year if I could split with Mike, I'd probably take it without hesitation."