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Saturday, Feb 23, 2019 at 11:58 pm

Duke Surges to Beat Syracuse on a Record Night

By Zach Lang

CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter

There was a clear difference in the air of the Carrier Dome Saturday night after the events of earlier this week. Before the game, the announcer held a moment of silence for Jorge Jimenez, the 51-year-old victim in the car accident on I-690 involving Head Coach Jim Boeheim.

Boeheim addressed the media directly about the tragic accident after the game.

“First and foremost, to the Jimenez family: I want them to know how truly devastated I am for my involvement in the loss of their loved one, Jorge Jimenez,” said Boeheim. “The grief and pain his family is feeling at this time is simply put: unimaginable… My decision to coach this game – all I can say is that I felt a great responsibility, an obligation, to my players, the members of my basketball team. I recruited these young men to come and play at Syracuse University. They needed me to try do my job. And they understand I did this feeling fully the weight of the tragic accident and its impact on the Jimenez family. This is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.”

Nevertheless, Boeheim entered the Loud House to thunderous cheers from the Central New York crowd and the Dome started rocking once the game got underway Saturday night. Duke (24-3, 12-2 Atlantic Coast) enacted revenge on Syracuse (18-9, 9-5 ACC), stealing a 75-65 win from the Orange after SU held a five-point lead at halftime.

Boeheim stressed that tonight was just another example of how the Orange have struggled to make shots all year.

“We didn’t shoot well,”Boeheim said. “We didn’t get the movement we need and we didn’t make shots when we got them.”

RJ Barrett led the Blue Devils with 30 points, shooting 14 of 20 from the field and tallied seven assists. Fellow freshman Tre Jones added 11 points. Jones missed significant time against Syracuse when the teams met previously at Cameron Indoor this season. Early in that game, he injured his shoulder after colliding with starting Syracuse guard Frank Howard.

Duke was without freshman superstar Zion Williamson after he sustained a knee sprain in Duke’s previous game against North Carolina when his left foot broke through his shoe.

Alex O’Connell then stepped up and scored 20 points for the Blue Devils. A second-half breakaway for Duke began when O’Connell connected a fastbreak dunk. The very next possession, Barrett flushed a lob from Jones. The Duke freshmen proved too powerful for an Elite Eight-seasoned Orange team.

“The second half, we really got to stick together and learn really how to close the game out,” said Syracuse sophomore Oshae Brissett. “We had them. We should have just ended it early.”

Syracuse’s stars struggled throughout the contest. Tyus Battle and Brissett finished a combined 7-30 from the field. Battle still led the Orange in scoring with 16 points.

“[Duke] was ready to play tonight regardless of the situation and I think that made us more hungry,” said Battle. “To come out and lose a tough game and have shots not fall in the second half is tough.”

Brissett missed time in the second half after getting elbowed in the face. He walked off the court holding and wiping his head, but returned to the floor soon after.

Howard started strong for the Orange, scoring eight of the team’s first 12 points and propelled them to an early lead. He would finish with just the 10 points he scored in the first half.

Syracuse’s home crowd set the new NCAA Basketball attendance record for an on-campus game at 35,642. The Loud House set the previous record of 35,446 back in 2014 and 2015 when Duke came to the Salt City.

The Orange has a quick turnaround as it next travels to Chapel Hill to face the North Carolina Tar Heels on Tuesday. Syracuse’s final home game of the regular season comes on March 4th when Syracuse hosts No. 3 Virginia.

ztlang@syr.edu | @z_lang13