No. 1 SU loses second straight game

The Orange fell to No. 5 Duke in a controversial ending.

Syracuse was on top of the college basketball world after a 25-0 start to the season and No. 1 ranking. Now the Orange (25-2, 12-2 ACC) are amid a two-game losing streak and facing a drop in the polls after a 66-60 loss at Duke (22-6, 11-4 ACC) Saturday.

A rematch of one of the best games of the year lacked the offensive firepower of the first contest at the Carrier Dome. The Orange shot just 38.7 percent, hitting 24-of-62 field goals. The Blue Devils hit 47.9 percent of their shots, but were relatively quiet from three-point range, hitting 7-of-21 shots from beyond the arc.

Both teams were carried by its pair of star forwards. Jabari Parker led the Blue Devils with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Rodney Hood, who relentlessly attacked the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, chipped in with 13 points and seven boards. For the Orange, Jerami Grant had 17 points and eight rebounds, while C.J. Fair had 12 points and seven rebounds.

Syracuse jumped out to a 17-8 lead in the first 8:05 of the game, but went cold the rest of the half and was tied with Duke at 26 at the midway point. Michael Gbinije, playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time since transferring from Duke, kept the Orange in control with two three-pointers. He finished with eight points.

In the second half, though, the scoring picked up. Quinn Cook gave Duke a lift with two key threes. First, he hit a deep shot with 12:06 left to give the Blue Devils a 39-38 lead. Then, he extended Duke’s lead to 51-45 with another three at the 7:48 mark.

Syracuse also had to deal with foul trouble to its frontcourt. The Orange enjoyed added depth with the return of Baye Moussa Keita, who played extended minutes after playing just two minutes in his initial return from injury Wednesday against Boston College. Keita contributed on the glass, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds, eight coming on the offensive end. But he was limited by three first half fouls. Rakeem Christmas had two fouls in the first half, but picked up two more early in the second, forcing Syracuse to play with a smaller lineup for a stretch.

The Orange stayed within striking distance throughout, but the game ultimately turned in the final ten seconds. With Syracuse down 60-58, Fair drove baseline and hit a lay-up, but Hood drew a charge on Fair, giving Duke possession. Jim Boeheim, upset with the call, ran onto the court, yelling at referee Tony Greene, who made the call. Greene assessed Boeheim with a double technical, ejecting him from the game. The ejection was the first ever for Boeheim in a regular season game and his second ever as a head coach.

The Blue Devils used the free throws as a result of Boeheim’s technical fouls to put the game out of reach. The loss puts Syracuse 1.5 games out of first place in the ACC, behind 14-1 Virginia. Duke is now three games out of first, and 1.5 games behind the Orange.

Syracuse hit the 60-point mark for the first time since beating Notre Dame February 3, but it still wasn’t enough. Tyler Ennis scored nine points but shot 2-of-13 from the field, while Trevor Cooney shot 1-of-5, failing to hit a three-pointer.

 The Orange will have to solve their offensive issues in a hurry. Syracuse has a quick turnaround, playing at Maryland Monday.


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