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Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 69-65 loss to Duke

first_imgOMAHA, Neb. — It wasn’t like Syracuse’s previous three games. Normally, its opponents struggle to break its 2-3 zone and high-powered offenses were often left scrambling. But this time, when the potent zone limited Duke offensively, the Blue Devils were still able to find a way to down the Orange.In the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, No. 11 seed Syracuse’s (23-14, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) magic ran out to its conference rival and No. 2 seed Duke (29-7, 13-5) on Friday night at CenturyLink Center, falling to the Blue Devils, 69-65. The Syracuse zone held Duke’s shooters to an abysmal 19.2 percent mark from 3, but SU’s 16 turnovers and inability to stop Duke’s big men proved to be the difference maker.Here are three reactions from the Orange’s season-ending loss.Battle carries first-half loadOutside of Syracuse’s play-in game against Arizona State, Tyus Battle was a non-factor offensively in the first half of the Orange’s other two NCAA Tournament games. In the opening frame of SU’s wins against TCU and Michigan State, the guard combined for a 1-for-11 performance from the field with three points. Normally, he took over the game in the second half.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOn Friday night against Duke, Battle hit his first 3 just two minutes in. He kept attacking, finishing the first half with a trio of 3s. Battle led all players with 11 points on 50 percent shooting and added an alley-oop to Paschal Chukwu in the first 20 minutes.Battle’s first-half performance was not replicated by his teammates, most notably Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett — Syracuse’s other two main scoring threats. The duo combined for a poor 1-of-12 shooting from the field, including two missed dunks from Brissett, and turned the ball over four times. Brissett did add six rebounds and Howard three assists, but they struggled to finish.Last week in the opening frame against MSU, Howard and Brissett had three baskets apiece. In the first half on Friday, they were nearly nonexistent.Syracuse’s errors prove fatalIn a close contest like Friday night, each possession is as crucial as the next. And as Duke turned up the offensive pressure and pushed in transition, Syracuse for the most part matched the Blue Devils. But going up against Duke’s 2-3 zone also led to multiple errors by the Orange. Seven different times SU attempted an alley-oop that ended in a missed target or SU just catching the ball and restarting its offense. Normally, it resulted in a Duke transition.After one missed alley-oop from Frank Howard to Paschal Chukwu, Duke’s Grayson Allen took possession and attacked the rim. As he drove into the paint, he kicked the ball out to Gary Trent Jr. in the corner, who swished the open 3.Pair that with Syracuse’s 16 total turnovers and Duke took advantage, scoring 18 points off turnovers to SU’s eight. With Syracuse down four and under seven minutes remaining, Bourama Sidibe bobbled a pass. He lost the ball and Duke retained possession. Seconds later, Marvin Bagley III hit a mid-range jumper to put Duke up six.On a night where Syracuse kept it close, turning the ball over and questionable alley-oop passes kept making the slim margin seem much larger than it was.Duke misses its 3s but Marvin Bagley III keeps game aliveIn Syracuse’s previous three tournament games, it had not surrendered more than 56 points. The Orange limited three teams that normally averaged over 80 points a game well under their averages. On Friday night, the zone worked again, as Duke shot an abysmal 19.2 percent from 3.Some of the time, Duke had open 3s, much like it did when the Blue Devils last played the Orange. But the collapsing zone and constant pressure threw off a Duke team that shoots 39 percent from beyond the arc. Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr., Duke’s two main sharpshooters, combined to shoot 5-for-22, unable to pull away from the Orange.But on a night where its shooters struggled, ACC Player and Rookie of the Year Marvin Bagley III stepped up and dominated. After a first half where Bagley did not have a single rebound, he attacked the rim in the latter frame. Of his eight total rebounds, seven of them came on the offensive glass. And those second-chance points often resulted in points for the freshman.Syracuse had no answer to stopping Bagley. He was much more physical than the Orange defenders. On multiple occasions, he caught the ball in the paint and backed his defender down into an easy lay-in or dunk. Other times, an alley-oop from near the 3-point line ended in a poster dunk from Bagley. One time, he slammed the ball over Chukwu, and another time came over Sidibe.The zone worked yet again for Syracuse, making Duke work around the arc. But when its shooters struggled, Bagley was there to keep the Blue Devils’ lead intact. Comments Published on March 24, 2018 at 12:23 am Contact Charlie: csdistur@syr.edu | @charliedisturco Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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