Duke was already hitting its stride getting into an vital ACC sport Monday evening towards Syracuse, however the Blue Devils kicked into one other gear towards the Orange with an 85-71 victory as they received their fourth straight and crept nearer to the NCAA Event bubble. The house victory towards the Orange (13-7, 7-6 ACC) counts as a Quad 2 win for the Blue Devils (11-8, 9-6) and improves Duke to 6-6 in Quad 1 and a pair of video games forward of scheduled contests with Louisville, Georgia Tech and North Carolina to shut the common season.
As CBS Sports activities Bracketology Knowledgeable Jerry Palm famous Monday, Duke’s resume is “nonetheless very skinny,” however the blowout win over a Syracuse group on the bubble confirmed as soon as once more that the Blue Devils could also be peaking on the proper time. On the coronary heart of the latest enchancment is a extra cohesive offense and a protection that has stiffened after permitting over 90 factors in losses to Notre Dame and North Carolina earlier this month.
The Blue Devils whipped the basketball across the arc towards Syracuse’s zone within the first half for open appears and hit 10-of-18 tries from 3-point vary whereas opening up a 52-34 lead on the break. By evening’s finish, Duke had racked up 27 assists on 34 made discipline objectives. The Blue Devils’ offensive effectivity and ground spacing appeared to point out once more that the group has found an actual rhythm with out five-star freshman Jalen Johnson, who opted out of the remainder of the season on Feb. 15.
Johnson’s choice prompted Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to surmise that Duke may very well higher with out Johnson. Although his publicly-stated opinion on the matter drew some criticism, Boeheim noticed firsthand on Monday that his evaluation was probably appropriate.
The Orange, in the meantime, wanted the victory to bolster their very own NCAA Event probabilities as they entered the sport on the flawed aspect of the bubble, in keeping with Palm. As an alternative, they grew to become the newest victims of Duke’s late-season renaissance and can probably want a powerful end — starting with a sport at Georgia Tech on Saturday — to compete for an at-large bid.