For the final time ever in historic Cameron Indoor Stadium, the legendary college basketball duo of Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim shook hands following Duke's 79-59 win over Syracuse.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience in my life and just fortunate to have it and to coach with a guy who listens to people and takes their advice and will do stuff they think is good,” head coach Jim Boeheim said.
What followed was less than pleasant, at least for the quiet corner of the ear-splitting arena. The following game, the 50th anniversary of the stadium being renamed to Cameron, was filled with AJ Griffin three-pointers, four Duke players scoring exactly 15, and a horrific shooting performance from the Orange.
“We know they’re gonna get some stuff inside, we can live with that,” Coach Boeheim said. “We can’t give them 14 threes.”
The first half featured meager shooting and even a Buddy Boeheim benching, and the Orange found themselves down 14, never leading in a brutal display of Blue Devil dominance. Buddy Boeheim had easily the worst shooting day of this season, managing 2-15 from the field and 1-10 from three. Syracuse is 1-3 when he scores less than 10 points.
“We thought we got good looks in the first half, seven or eight that we should’ve made, me especially,” star guard Buddy Boeheim said. “They just said ‘keep shooting, you never know what could happen, we’ve been down before, keep fighting’.”
The shooting bug bit the whole team: SU only mustered 9-34 (26.5%) shooting from the field, which went down to 4-20 (20%) only counting Orange guards.
The 22-point halftime score is the lowest of the season so far.
“I thought we got good looks in the first half, just couldn’t convert,” Buddy said. “They’re a tough team, they’re obviously a top team in the country for a reason, and they’re very good defensively all around.”
Symir Torrence saw the most first-half action against an ACC opponent, logging just under 12 minutes of play. His 2-4 shooting mark was the best among all SU guards, and he was the only SU guard without a turnover in the opening half.
“He’s getting a lot better, he works really hard,” Buddy said. “I’m not surprised and expect that from him.”
He went down with a knee injury in the second half and walked it off, but he confirmed it was a right knee ligament sprain. Torrence believes he should be “good to go” for the upcoming games next week.
Duke star Paolo Banchero was mostly held in check scoring in the first half, only finishing 2-4 with four points, but his eight boards and four assists set up players like AJ Griffin, who flamed the three-point line at 4-6, the only player other than Joey Baker to hit multiple first-half threes.
Despite Syracuse’s poor shooting performance, the one glimmer of offensive hope was a surprising 9-0 run from 11:42 to 7:30 in the first half.
There was one last gasp of momentum to open the second half, as the Orange outscored the Blue Devils in the opening four minutes 7-6, but then another eight Duke points in a little over a minute squeezed out the last of the Orange.
A thunderous three by Banchero at the 12:46 mark banged in, and that 25-point lead officially became the largest any team has had at any point all season over Syracuse.
Syracuse outscored Duke 26-21 after that three, including an impressive 13-2 run in the final four minutes, but it was far little too late.
Jesse Edwards once again helped to provide a late spark, snagging four steals and six rebounds, plus a block to boot. He has fouled out in nearly every ACC game, but only picked up three today.
“I try to eliminate all the little fouls like over the backs, reaching fouls, all the ones I could avoid pretty easily,” Edwards said. “Whenever they go up for a shot, I’ll go up and contest it because if I do get a foul, it’s useful. Smart fouls.”
SU now falls to 2-5 in Cameron Indoor against Duke, 0-5 in their last five meetings with the Blue Devils.
“It’s obviously one of the toughest places to play in the country and hopefully when we play them at our place, we’ll have a similar crowd and atmosphere,” Buddy said.
The ghosts of Cameron past still haunt Jim Boeheim and the Orange, and they won’t get another shot at beating Coach K.
Well, at least until February.
"We haven’t played like this - we’ve been pretty good this year, we’ve struggled but we’ve been there,” Coach Boeheim said. “This group’s played really well together, especially in the league. I think we’re still good, I think we’ll still finish strongly.”
Syracuse next travels to the Steel City, where they’ll take on the Pittsburgh Panthers this following Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.