Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

John Gillon's prayer at the buzzer was answered with a deep 3-pointer off the backboard to lift Syracuse past Duke 78-75 at the Carrier Dome Wednesday. The Blue Devils' seven-game winning streak ended in dramatic fashion, as Duke and the Orange added another chapter to the string of instant classics the two teams have played in recent years.

Revisiting the three keys to the game

  • Find the open 3: The Blue Devils were not always patient and disciplined against Syracuse's 2-3 zone, with junior Grayson Allen and sophomore Luke Kennard launching a few rushed shots early in possessions from several feet beyond the 3-point line. Duke wound up shooting just 10-of-33 from downtown—Allen was 1-of-8—though the Blue Devils did move the ball around on occasion for some big shots and finished with 16 assists on their 25 made field goals.
  • Control the tempo from the start: Neither Duke nor the Orange play particularly fast, but Wednesday's game started at a breakneck pace with few stoppages in play in the opening minutes. The Blue Devils soon opened up a double-digit lead when the game slowed down and they could methodically pick apart Syracuse's defense, but the Orange got back into it in the second half behind several quick driving layups in transition from point guard John Gillon.
  • Contain Andrew White III on the perimeter: Duke clearly made it a point of emphasis to take White III out of the game, and its defense succeeded. Syracuse's leading scorer attempted just four shots from the field and scored seven points. But the Blue Devils' tight defense on White III helped each of the Orange's four other starters score in double figures, as Syracuse's role players all rose to the occasion to help their team pull off a critical upset.

Three key stats:

  • Syracuse shoots 70.8 percent from the field in the second half: The Orange were unstoppable in the second half, pouring in 53 points after putting up just 25 before the break. Part of that was Duke's defense softening up, but Syracuse also made several tough shots, including a few midrange fadeaways from freshman Tyus Battle and a pair of shots off the backboard from more than 20 feet out. Everything seemed to fall for the Orange down the stretch, and the Blue Devils just barely couldn't keep up.
  • Duke grabs 16 offensive rebounds: The Blue Devils dominated the glass a year after Syracuse big man Tyler Roberson had his way in the paint with 20 rebounds in Durham. Duke led most of the game despite a field-goal percentage worse than 40 percent thanks to 17 second-chance points. A lot of the Blue Devils' misses from downtown caromed far off the rim, helping guards Allen and Kennard combine for seven offensive rebounds when the ball soared over the heads of the Orange's defenders under the basket.
  • Allen scores just eight points: Duke's junior guard recently aggravated a toe injury he has been dealing with all year and was clearly not himself Wednesday. Allen shot just 2-of-11 from the field and did not make many other meaningful contributions to the box score, finishing with just one rebound and one assist. He was also mired in foul trouble all game, picking up his fourth early in the second half and only playing 29 minutes.

Three key plays: Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

John Gillon's 3-pointer off the glass at the buzzer snapped Duke's seven-game winning streak and lifted Syracuse to a 78-75 victory in front of a home crowd of more than 30,000 at the Carrier Dome. Following the game, The Chronicle's Mitchell Gladstone and Meredith Cash reacted to the wild finish and discussed why the Blue Devils came up short.

0:29—A breakdown of the game's final two minutes

1:16—What happened to Duke's defense in the second half after a strong first half Read more »

Halftime: Duke 33, Syracuse 25

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—The Blue Devils arrived at the Carrier Dome Wednesday looking to extend their ACC-best seven-game win streak to eight.

They are well on their way to doing just that thanks to a double-double effort by freshman Jayson Tatum in the opening 20 minutes.

Sparked by Tatum’s 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting and 10 rebounds, No. 10 Duke leads Syracuse 33-25 at the break. Tatum's jumper has looked smooth for the third straight game, spearheading the Blue Devil offense as Duke held the Orange to 34.8 percent shooting. Sophomore Luke Kennard added nine points, and the Blue Devils capitalized on a Syracuse field goal drought lasting more than seven minutes in the middle of the period to take control.

Duke looked to break down Syracuse’s 2-3 zone early on by switching up its typical floor spacing. Kennard floated in the middle of the zone, and Tatum, junior Grayson Allen and senior captain Matt Jones rotated around the perimeter. Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

In the midst of a seven-game conference winning streak, the Blue Devils will look to tally their fourth ACC road win Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. All of Duke’s seven straight wins have been decided by 10 points or less, and four of the Blue Devils' five matchups against the Orange in the last three years have been decided by single digits. Syracuse enters Wednesday’s contest on a three-game losing streak, hoping to return to the form that fueled to a four-game conference win streak earlier in the year. Here are three keys to the game for the Blue Devils:

Find the open 3

The Orange and head coach Jim Boeheim boast a notorious 2-3 zone defense, an uncommon staple in the ACC. In order to break down Syracuse’s defense, the Blue Devils will have to be diligent about being patient and utilizing the shot clock, something they have struggled to do at times throughout the season. With Jayson Tatum evolving into a more reliable 3-point shooter recently, Duke's plethora of perimeter weapons could give the Blue Devils a significant advantage.

After a standout performance against North Carolina Feb. 9, junior Grayson Allen has turned in three consecutive quiet performances. He and sophomore Luke Kennard rely heavily on 3-pointers, and there is potential for either to have a strong game while Amile Jefferson and Harry Giles tangle with the Orange frontcourt.

Control the tempo from the start

Despite the seven-game winning streak, the Blue Devils struggle to dominate early and often and have sometimes played down to their competition. Duke entered halftime with a sizable lead in only two of those seven victories, relying on second-half spurts to ultimately decide close games. Fourteen of Syracuse’s 16 wins have come at home, so it will be necessary for the Blue Devils to establish a consistent rhythm early to take the crowd out of the game. Duke handed Notre Dame its second home loss of the season Jan. 30 by spreading the ball and attacking the rim, two essential tasks against any Syracuse team. Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

With the Blue Devils riding a seven-game winning streak, The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Mitchell Gladstone get you ready for another tough road contest at Syracuse Wednesday night at 7.

0:36—What makes the Orange's experienced offense dangerous in the backcourt

1:22—Why Syracuse's zone has not been very effective this year

2:03—How the Orange's shot-happy tendencies could play right into Duke's hands Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

Duke heads to Syracuse, N.Y., Wednesday looking to continue its current seven-game winning streak and pick up a game in the ACC standings against Louisville or North Carolina, who will also meet Wednesday in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils are aiming to defeat Syracuse for the fourth time in six matchups since the Orange joined the ACC in 2013. The Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each team who could be the difference-maker in the game:

Duke: Guard Frank Jackson

Although classmate Jayson Tatum has drawn the most attention for his series of performances during Duke’s winning streak, the Blue Devils will need another freshman to step up and deliver against Syracuse. The Orange feature Hall-of-Fame head coach Jim Boeheim’s famed 2-3 zone, which Syracuse has turned into a deadly weapon during Boeheim’s tenure since he first became head coach in 1976, four years before Coach K arrived in Durham. 

In order for Duke to dismantle this signature defense, point guard play will be key. When the point guard is able to shoot over the zone in addition to attacking the gaps with dribble penetration and dishing out to shooters, he can overwork the front two guards and set up opportunities for his teammates. Read more »

This week in Duke history: Krzyzewski starts walk-ons against Chris Paul, Wake Forest

This week in Duke history: Krzyzewski starts walk-ons against Chris Paul, Wake Forest

Not every game is a big one for a walk-on, especially at Duke.

But imagine being a walk-on and having to go against one of the best players in the ACC in recent memory, a future star in the NBA.

That was the task for sophomore Patrick Davidson Feb. 20, 2005. Fed up with two straight losses, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski swapped out three starters for former walk-on Reggie Love and walk-ons Davidson and Patrick Johnson against Chris Paul and then-No. 5 Wake Forest.

And what happened? Read more »

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 15

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 15

With just two more weeks remaining in the regular season, many of the nation's best are still jostling for postseason seeding. What's changed in the top 25 after a less tumultuous week in the college basketball world?

Knock, knock, Hoos there?

No. 14 Virginia entered the week with the best defense in the country, but faced a gauntlet down the stretch after suffering a road defeat last weekend at Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers failed to respond, dropping a pair of primetime matchups—first at home to No. 12 Duke and then in Chapel Hill against No. 10 North Carolina. Tony Bennett's team sputtered to a 48.0 point per game average in the two contests, falling four spots to No. 18. 

The Blue Devils jumped back into the top 10 at No. 10 and the Tar Heels also shifted up to No. 8, and the two Tobacco Road rivals will face off for the second time March 4 in Chapel Hill to close out the regular season. Read more »

Around the ACC: Week 15

Around the ACC: Week 15

After two more wins, the Blue Devils are now in good position for a double-bye in the ACC tournament with two weeks to go in the regular season.

No. 10 North Carolina (23-5, 11-3)

The Tar Heels had an impressive week with 24-point victories against N.C. State and Virginia to remain alone atop the conference standings. North Carolina shot 56.0 percent from the field with five players in double figures and won the battle of the boards 41-25 against the Wolfpack, then rode 20 points from junior Justin Jackson and an exceptional defensive effort to a 65-41 victory against the Cavaliers, the fewest points the Tar Heels have allowed to any opponent in head coach Roy Williams' 14-year tenure. 

With three games against ranked opponents left on the schedule, the Tar Heels still have their work cut out for them to hold onto to the top seed by the time the ACC tournament rolls around. Read more »