Duke Basketball: Coach K. Defeats Syracuse Orange 97-72



Duke forward Paolo Banchero (5) celebrates with forward AJ Griffin (21) after scoring a goal against Syracuse during the first half of an NCAA College basketball game in Syracuse, New York, on Saturday, February 26, 2022 (AP Photo / Adrian Kraus)


No. 7 Duke launched an early offensive attack that calmed the crowded Syracuse Carrier Dome and brought the Blue Devils closer to securing first place in the ACC tournament.

The Blue Devils made 11 of the first 12 shots, increasing in the first half by 30 points on the way to an explosion at Syracuse 97-72 in ACC basketball on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 31,803 people.

Duke had a trio of 20-point scorers when freshmen Paolo Banchera and AJ Griffin shot around the perimeter, and a powerful game by central sophomore Mark Williams defeated the Orange (15-14 overall, 9-9 ACC).

The winner of six games in a row, Duke, who finished first (25-4 overall, 15-3 ACC), holds the advantage in one game over Notre Dame (21-8, 14-4) in the regular season standings with two games to play. Since the Blue Devils defeated the Irish 57-43 on Jan. 31 to win a tie-break, Duke only needs to beat Pittsburgh on Tuesday night or North Carolina on March 5 to win first place in the ACC regular season since 2010.

Williams proved too much to handle inside as he scored 28 career points by making 12 rebounds.

Banchero, who has been shooting recently, has shown his best final game since scoring 21 points in Notre Dame on 31 January. The 6-10 forward scored 18 points in the first half, finishing 21 points with 7 of 16 shots. This included 4 out of 7 on three-pointers.

In the previous seven games Duke Bancher has made just 5 of 17 three-pointers. He also finished with nine assists against Syracuse.

Griffin scored 20 points with 7 of 11 shots, including 6 of 10 in three-pointers.

Buddy Boheim secured the bulk of the Orange attack, scoring 23 points, and Joe Girard added 18. The Syracuse scored 49.2% overall, but beat just 5 of 19 three-pointers.

Due to the strength of this scorching start the “Blue Devils” threw 60% in the first half and led 51-34 before the break. The Blue Devils led 48-18 from 5:05 to the end of the half before Syracuse scored the last 11 points of the half to reduce the deficit.

The Oranges were close to 15 at the start of the second half before Duke, when Williams scored against each other with baskets inside, pushed his advantage.

Duke finished with 53.8% of shots from the field when the Blue Devils beat 15 of 32 3-point attempts against the Orange defense in Zone 2-3. 15 three-pointers equated Duke with the highest figure of the season.

This story was originally published February 26, 2022, 8:13 p.m.

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Steve Wiseman has been covering Duke’s athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. He took second place in writing rhythms and breaking news in the 2019 Associated Press National Sports Editors Competition. Steve previously worked for The State (Columbia, SC), Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC), The Sun Herald (Bilaxi, Miss.), Charlotte Observer and Hickory (NC) Daily Record, covering rhythms including Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina Athletics and SC General Assembly. He has won numerous state-level press awards. Steve graduated from the University of Illinois in 1989.

Duke Basketball: Coach K. Defeats Syracuse Orange 97-72

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