The Cameron Crazies shouted chants of "Boston College" when Syracuse initially came out onto the floor before Saturday's Syracuse (25-2, 12-2 ACC_ at Duke (22-6, 11-4) showdown, and the Orange played similarly for the next 40 minutes, again in a nail-biting slugfest down the wire in which the offense failed to deliver.
Though this time was a bit different, it was a back-and fourth affair in half No. 2, after the Orange built up a lead as large as nine points in the first frame, with the Blue Devils answering about every punch or run the visiting Orange could throw at them en route to a 66-60 victory to split the season series.
Jabari Parker led Duke with 19 points, hitting all three shots he attempted from beyond the arc, and Jerami Grant paced Syracuse with 17 in another hotly-contested ACC tussle forcing SU to a second consecutive loss after beginning the 2013-14 campaign 25-0, ascending up to a No. 1 ranking.
While the number-crunching can point to a slight edge for the home team, the game's most critical play will remain the talk of the college basketball world.
C.J. Fair came up the left baseline and seemingly put in a tying shot with just 11 seconds remaining, and the whistle blew.
After a brief pause, a charge call was signaled and the Crazies lived up to their loud reputation more here than ever, as Orange coach Jim Boeheim stormed to center court with arms flailing in anger about the call. It resulted in a pair of technical fouls, marking the first regular-season ejection for Boeheim in 39 years at the helm.
"I just thought it was the worst call of the year, I didn't want the game to end on that call,'' he said. "I thought the game was tremendously officiated...but the new rule is that it's a block.
"The guy was moving, new rule, it's a block.''
Rodney Hood, who scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds for Duke, was the defender who drew the game's biggest call on Fair.
"Being in that (same) situation again, maybe it can favor us," Fair said. "We knew coach would fight for us, though."
Syracuse turned the ball over uncharacteristically against Duke early on, six times in the first half though just two in the second, leading to double-digit Blue Devil points. The home team's defense was stifling for much of the game, forcing the Orange to shoot just 38.7 percent from the floor, though the visitors didn't hold the lead en route to a 26-all tie at the break.
The game didn't mirror the firepower shown at the Carrier Dome during the teams' first meeting as members of the ACC, as defense ruled this day.
"I thought out defense was better, we didn't let them throw it in and out," Boeheim said. "We made the guy in the high post make plays. We didn't let them hit the threes they got in Syracuse."
Duke captured the lead on its first possession of the second half, as Amile Jefferson got to the free throw line. Parker put in a three on the Blue Devils' next possession and it controlled the pace the rest of the way, despite a late rally by Grant, Tyler Ennis and company, who were down six with less than three minutes to play before nearly coming all the way back until the controversial call was made.
With each team coming off of a rare loss, offense was scarce out of the gate. But a familiar face for Duke fans sparked the Orange's ensuing lead, as Michael Gbinije scored 5 straight points against his former team. SU's lead would balloon to nine soon after.
- Parker paced all players in scoring (19) and rebounding (10) in the win.
- Ennis played the entire game, going 0-5 from the floor with a pair of turnovers in the first half. He finished 2 for 13 from the floor.
- Hood played the entire first half, notching 7 points and five rebounds in the process. He briefly missed time in the second half, going to the locker room, before returning and finishing the game.
- Boeheim said Keita, who pulled down nine rebounds and scored four points, was "spectacular." He also said Gbinije (eight points, two rebounds, two steals) had "his best game of the season."
- Syracuse has a quick turnaround, on the road Monday night at Maryland.