The stage was set for a Duke letdown. The Blue Devils had won three straight and spent a great deal of emotion in Saturday’s one-point win over Virginia. Then, less than 48 hours later, Duke had to face Syracuse’s zone with little time to prepare.
Instead of struggling, however, the Blue Devils lit up the Orange, hitting 10-of-18 from three in the first half, building a lead as large as 22 points. It grew to 24 in the second half as the Blue Devils cruised to an 85-71 win.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “Four games in 10 days. After Saturday night’s amazing game, to be able to play the way we did tonight was outstanding. We had to change how we prepared and that helped. The kids played great. We had 27 assists and got Mark [Williams] involved right away. Our guys threw those lobs, and Mark had his best game with 18 and 11. The freshmen backcourt had 14 assists with great leadership by Wendell [Moore Jr.] and Jordan [Goldwire]. Matt [Hurt] was just solid.”
Krzyzewski often talks about “energy cycles” in a season, and the Blue Devils were due for a low point in the cycle. Instead, however, Duke was able to find its energy.
“We weathered two storms that we knew they were going to hit us with their press in the first half,” he said. “(The lead) went from 22 to 14 and then we were able to get it back to 18. After the first TV timeout, they hit us again and you worry about us being tired and emotionally spent and instead, after turning it over a couple of times, we started breaking the press and started to score and gave us our mojo back again. A really big win for us. This is tough. You play four games in 10 days, that’s tough for any team. For our kids to have four wins is great. We have to get some rest and get going again.”