Syracuse’s Season Ends with Sweet Sixteen Loss to Duke
Syracuse’s 2017-18 came to an end with a 69-65 defeat at the hands of the Duke Blue Devils in the Midwest Regional semifinal in Omaha, NE Friday night.
Grayson Allen made a jumper with 4:16 left to open up a 62-53 lead for the Blue Devils. The Orange responded with a 7-1 run to trim Duke’s lead to 63-60 with 1:27 to go on a jumper by Oshae Brissett. Syracuse cut the lead to 67-65 on a free throw by Tyus Battle with 7 seconds remaining. Two free throws by Gary Trent Jr. iced the game for the Blue Devils.
The Orange took a 27-24 lead with 5:20 left in the opening stanza on a free throw by Frank Howard, but Duke closed the half on a 10-0 run and took a 34-27 advantage into the break.
Syracuse had their best shooting performance of the NCAA Tournament as they shot 49% from the field. The Orange held the Blue Devils to 39.3% shooting. The greatest disparity was at the free throw line. Duke converted 20-of-28 attempts from the charity stripe compared to just 11-of-17 for Syracuse. The Orange turned the ball over 16 times, which led to Duke’s 18-8 advantage in points off turnovers. Syracuse outrebounded the Blue Devils, 37-33.
Duke was led by Marvin Bagley III’s 22 points and 7 rebounds. Allen scored 15 points, on 4-of-15 shooting, and dished out 8 assists. Trent Jr. scored 14 points, on 5-of-13 from the floor, and grabbed 5 rebounds. Wendell Carter Jr. posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Orange were led by Battle who poured in 19 points, on 7-of-15 from the field, and distributed 5 assists. Brissett tallied 15 points, on 5-of-15 shooting, and corralled 7 rebounds. Marek Dolezaj added 13 points and 4 rebounds. Paschal Chukwu finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds.
Howard struggled from the field, shooting just 1-for-6, and contributed with 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Jim Boeheim commented on his team’s performance and reflected on the season and Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament run in his postgame press conference. “We knew we had our work cut out for us,” Boeheim said. “We started out playing as well offensively as we have in a long time. We had a little dead spot at the end of the first half that we just couldn’t quite come back from. These guys have had an incredible end of the year. I’ve never been any more proud of a team.”
The Orange finished their 2017-18 campaign with a record of 23-14, while Duke moved on to the Elite Eight where they fell to the 1-seed Kansas 85-81 in overtime on Sunday.
Syracuse exceeded expectations this year. If Battle and Brissett come back, the Orange could have a preseason top 10 team with a top recruiting class coming in. So far, the only player that will not return to the roster is Matthew Moyer. Syracuse will have Darius Bazley, Jalen Carey, Buddy Boeheim, and East Carolina transfer Elijah Hughes. The bar will be set much higher in 2018-19.