Gary Trent Jr. struggled all night long from behind the 3-point arc. But when it mattered most — facing a one-and-one with his Blue Devils up two with just seconds remaining — he came through, swishing both free throws to give Duke a 69-65 win over ACC rival Syracuse.
It’s career win number 1,100 for Mike Krzyzewski. Marvin Bagley III led the way with 22 points, and Grayson Allen (15), Wendell Carter Jr. (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Trent Jr. (14 points) all scored in double figures for Duke. Tyus Battle paced Syracuse with 19 points.
For the opening 15 minutes, neither team could create much space: Syracuse’s largest lead was four and Duke’s was two. But the Blue Devils finished the half on a 10-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Allen. The Orange didn’t score for the final 5:19 of the half and turned it over four times over that span. Duke went into halftime up 34-27 with Allen, Bagley III and Carter Jr. combining for 25 of those points.
Syracuse got right back into things, though, scoring on its first two possessions and causing an incensed Mike Krzyzewski to call time out, yank off his suit jacket and rip into his team.
Duke never lost the lead, though, and expanded it to as big as nine after back-to-back 3-pointers from Trent Jr. and Allen sandwiched around a Syracuse timeout. But the Orange hung around and, aside from a quick 6-0 spurt from the Blue Devils that made it 62-53 with 4:16 to go, kept the deficit within a couple of possessions for the most part.
Tyus Battle knocked down a huge three — his fourth of the night, and the first of the half for Syracuse — with 2:24 remaining to get the deficit down to five, and an Oshae Brissett bucket brought it to 63-60, Duke. But Trent Jr. came right back with a floater in traffic to restore the lead to five. Frank Howard and Allen traded free throws before a Marek Dolezaj tip-in cut it to three, 67-64, once again.
With roughly seven seconds left, Allen missed the front-end of a one-and-one, and Howard knocked down one-of-two on the other end to cut it to two. But Trent Jr. calmly sunk two free throws to finally put the Orange to rest and give the game its final scoreline.
Syracuse certainly had its chances: The Orange shot just 11 of 17 from the free-throw line — including multiple missed front-ends of one-and-ones — and struggled against the length of Duke’s zone, turning it over 16 times. Battle, who made four of his eight shots from 3-point range, was the only player to make a shot behind the arc; the rest of his teammates combined to miss all five of their attempts.
Duke, meanwhile, shot just 5 of 26 from deep but collected 16 offensive rebounds, seven of which came from Bagley III. The ACC Player of the Year needed just 12 shots to get to his 22 points, and he knocked down several short jumpers in the space in the middle of Syracuse’s patented 2-3 zone. Duke’s bigs went 12 of 19 from the field; the rest of the team was 10 of 37.
Duke will face Kansas, which won earlier in the night, on Sunday.
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