Deeper Dive: Syracuse Upsets Duke

Breaking down Syracuse's huge win over Duke.

Top Performer: How could it be anyone but John Gillon, who's game high 26 points and six assists without a turnover led Syracuse to a critical victory. Gillon was fantastic all night. He hit open jumpers and drove the ball with purpose and success. It may have been his best game finishing at the rim. Combine that with the game winner, and it was quite a night for the Orange point guard.

Bottom Feeder: In just seven minutes of action, Frank Howard scored one point, had one assist and was 0-2 shooting. He did not turn it over, but he did not have a strong showing in his limited minutes. 

Stat of the Game: The only reason this game was close was because of rebounding. Duke out-rebounded Syracuse 36-28, including a 16-4 edge on the offensive glass. That led to 17 second chance points. The Orange defense was quite good for most of the game, but they could not keep Duke off of the offensive boards. 

Turning Point: Underrated about the buzzer beater was the defense that set up that opportunity. As Duke passed the ball around, the zone rotated and prevented penetration. Luke Kennard tried to get into the lane, but a physical John Gillon prevented that with strong footwork. It forced Kennard into a tough jumper, which missed off of the back rim. 

He Said It: "I looked up and we had five (seconds left), I was like, 'dang.' I tried to speed it up the court and then three people were on me. I was like, 'I can get this off.' I kept my elbow in, followed through and it went in. I saw it go in. I was like, 'dang, I made that?' I was just happy. We needed that one." - Syracuse point guard John Gillon on his buzzer beating game winner. 

Five Takeaways:

  1. Say what you want about Gillon and the rest of this team, but they have a lot of heart. A lot of fight. They never give up regardless of the circumstance. Gillon has had several memorable moments this season. The 43 point game against NC State and this buzzer beater to name a couple. Head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game that as Gillon goes so goes Syracuse, and he is absolutely correct on that. It is difficult for the Orange to win games when point guard play is subpar.   
  2. Tyus Battle showed why he and the team had made major strides prior to him getting sick. He made several pro moves in the second half as the Orange ran isolation with him over and over again. Crossovers, attacking the rim, fadeaway jumpers, you name it. Battle's full arsenal was on display against Duke. He could be an All-ACC performer next season. Would Syracuse have lost three in a row if Battle never got sick? Doubtful. 
  3. The Syracuse guards have to do a better job of feeding Tyler Lydon in the post. He got great position over and over, demanding the ball in those situations. Despite that, he was rarely thrown the ball in the post. It really hurt their offense in the first half. 
  4. Duke is a loaded offensive team, and Syracuse played really strong defense. They held the Blue Devils to 39% shooting from the floor and just 30% from beyond the arc. Their main issue was securing the rebound after a good defensive possession. Seventeen second half points for Duke kept the in a game that otherwise would have been a comfortable Orange victory.  
  5. This game was huge for Syracuse. It absolutely puts them on the right side of the bubble. Duke was playing arguably the best basketball of any team in the country, and Syracuse just knocked them off. What a fantastic performance. Jim Boeheim alluded to the fact that he thinks this team has finally figured it out. The last eight or nine games suggest he is right. The Orange will be a dangerous team in March. 

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