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Syracuse men’s basketball gets throttled in the second half by No. 14 Duke

Syracuse coaches and players standing for the national anthem prior to SU's loss to No. 14 Duke.
Syracuse coaches and players standing for the national anthem prior to SU's loss to No. 14 Duke.

It was an all too familiar result for SU fans Tuesday night. Syracuse men's basketball (10-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell to Duke (10-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) 86-66 down in Durham. The Orange have suffered nine straight losses to the Blue Devils, and recently they haven’t been close. Four of the last five matchups have ended in 20-point Duke victories.

Despite the lopsided final score, the ‘Cuse were down only two points at the break mainly thanks to the pairing of Judah Mintz and Maliq Brown. The duo combined for 24 of SU’s 33 first-half points. No other player on head coach Adrian Autry’s scored found the bottom of the net more than once.

However, neither Brown nor Mintz were the sophomores who shone the brightest in the first half. Syracuse had no answer for Duke forward Mark Mitchell’s 18 points in the opening frame, the most first-half points by a Blue Devil this season. The former five-star recruit finished with a career-high 21 points.

Syracuse’s early success stemmed from its ability to shut down Duke star Kyle Filipowski and defend the long ball.

Filipowski entered the night averaging 18 points a contest, but SU kept him at bay to start the game. In the first half, the former top-10 recruit finished with no points and two fouls to his name in only seven minutes of action.

The seven-footer left a big hole inside that the Orange took advantage of through Maliq Brown. The sophomore excelled flushing three dunks in the first half and finishing with a career-high 26 points.

Maliq Brown (1, orange) elevates for a dunk over Mark Mitchell in SU’s loss to No. 14 Duke.
Maliq Brown (1, orange) elevates for a dunk over Mark Mitchell in SU’s loss to No. 14 Duke.

With last season’s ACC Rookie of the Year absent, Duke’s perimeter shooting suffered. The Blue Devils missed all nine of their three-point attempts in the first half.

The Orange found its recipe to success to start the game, but it was all about replicating it after the break which they failed to do.

The Blue Devils came out of the locker room with a head full of steam and never looked back. Filipowski got going inside with 12 points and the lid was removed from the basket. Duke head coach Jon Scheyer’s squad thrashed the net in the second half with 51 points including eight makes on eight attempts from long range.

This was a first for the storied program. Never before had the Blue Devils failed to convert a three-pointer in the first half and follow it up by a perfect shooting performance from deep in the second half. Duke's 8-for-8 clip from long range in the second half is the most made three-pointers in a half without a miss in program history.

Adrian Autry said that a performance like that is just insurmountable.

“That's just that's just tough to overcome and uh so you know you can't do that not against any good team but especially against this team right here,” Autry said.

The Blue Devils shot 18-of-24 (75%) from the field in the second half, their best shooting performance in a single half so far this campaign.

The ‘Cuse did their part to aid the Duke scoring by failing to control the ball. SU turned the ball over 17 times and the Blue Devils capitalized with 26 points off turnovers.

“I thought we were responsible for a lot of the scoring as far as just not being able to take care of the ball. They share the basketball, and they found their guys and they got going and that was the difference in the game,” Autry said.

Syracuse is back in action next week for its first home contest of the new year against Boston College (9-4, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) on January 10th. Game time is set for 9 p.m. and WAER’s coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with McClurg Remodeling Countdown to Tipoff.