DURHAM, N.C. - #5/6 Duke made seven free throws in the final 24 seconds to turn a one-point lead into a 66-60 win against #1/1 Syracuse on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Trailing 55-49 the Orange used a 7-2 run to pull within 57-56 with 2:01 to go. Jabari Parker added to Duke's lead with a layup with 90 seconds left but junior Rakeem Christmas answered on a two-handed slam with only 36 seconds remaining.
Following a free throw by Rasheed Sulaimon to make it a two-point game, senior C.J. Fair appeared to make the game-tying layup, however, was called for the offensive foul. Two technical were assessed after the play and Quinn Cook made 3-of-4 from the line. The Blue Devils retained possession and hit three more from the charity stripe in the final 10 seconds to secure the win.
It was the 31st straight home win for Duke (22-6, 11-4 ACC) while the Orange (25-2, 12-2 ACC), who were making its first trip to Cameron, has now dropped its past two games after starting off the season with 25 consecutive wins.
Sophomore Jerami Grant finished with 17 points and eight rebounds to lead the Orange. Senior C.J. Fair was equally efficient with 12 points and seven boards. The Orange also got productive bench play with sophomore Michael Gbinije tallying eight points in the first half and senior Baye Mousa Keita matching a season-high nine rebounds, including eight on the offensive end.
Syracuse scored the first basket to open the game, but the teams traded scores for the first four minutes, resulting in four ties. A floater by Grant started a 9-0 run giving the Orange its largest lead at 17-8 with 11:52 left in the half with Gbinije netting five points during the spurt.
Duke responded with eight of the next 10 points to pull within 19-16 five minutes later. However, a pair of free throws by freshman Tyler Ennis and a layup by Grant pushed the margin back up to seven.
Over the final 5:30 the Blue Devils outscored SU 10-3, with Syracuse's only points coming on a Gbinije three, to tie the score at 26-26 at the break.
The teams traded the lead back-and-forth three times throughout the first two minutes of the second half with Duke increasing its margin to 36-32 four minutes into the final half. Six unanswered points in less than two minutes had the Orange back in front at 38-36. That began a stretch of three more lead changes during a 1:35 span in which Duke came out on top 44-41 and never trailed again.
Five unanswered points by the Blue Devils turned into a 12-4 run, capped by a Quinn Cook three and gave the hosts a 51-45 edge with 7:45 to go. Both teams continued to exchange baskets until the Orange's 7-2 run brought the team within just one point.
Duke won the shooting battle with a 47.9-percent (23-48) effort compared to 38.7-percent (24-62) for SU. The Blue Devils were aided by a strong second half in which the team was 54.2-percent (13-24), however Syracuse wasn't far behind at 51/9-percent (14-27).
Despite winning both the rebounding margin (37-34) and on the offensive end (16-11), Syracuse was unable to capitalize on those extra chances and was outscored on second chance points, 14-10. The Orange also forced 11 turnovers to just eight of its own, but only had a two point edge of 15-13 in points off turnovers.
Parker posted game highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Rodney Hood added 13 points and seven rebounds and Sulaimon had eight points, seven assists and four rebounds.
The Orange has a quick turnaround and head to Maryland on Monday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.