Syracuse’s big 3 goes silent in 60-44 loss at No. 5 Duke

first_img Published on February 24, 2018 at 11:13 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 DURHAM, N.C. — Jim Boeheim joked that his good friend, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, should not have been permitted to run the patented 2-3 zone defense that Boeheim himself so famously deploys.“I don’t think that Coach K should even be allowed to play zone,” Boeheim said with a smile. “I’m surprised he can even do that.”But Duke’s zone was no joke.The No. 5 Blue Devils (24-5, 12-4 Atlantic Coast) harassed an inconsistent Syracuse offense on Saturday afternoon, holding SU (18-11, 7-9) to just 44 points in a 60-44 Duke win at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Particularly, the zone forced the Orange to settle for outside shots, which were many times forced at the end of the shot clock. Many of them did not fall. The Blue Devils staved off the very heartbeat of Syracuse: the trio of Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett finished with more turnovers (11) than shots made from the field (10). They combined for just 29 points after a first half in which they had totaled four points.Syracuse’s defense allowed the Orange to hang tight through 30 minutes of play, which gave SU’s big three a chance to make the game close in the final minutes. But the offense’s engine never gained traction and SU’s leading trio was neutralized.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs a result, what was already known became clearer: No matter how strong its defense is, Syracuse needs production from its three-leading scorers to win.Marvin Bagley III, the star Duke freshman who likely will be a top-five pick in this year’s NBA Draft, scored a game-high 19 points. He said Duke forced SU to shoot contested jumpers and 3s because of an active, alert and communicative zone. It was packed airtight inside, meaning dribble drives came at a premium. The Orange expected the zone, players said, but Duke “just played really high,” Battle said. “They made it tough for us to get good 3-point looks.”Syracuse struggled to create off the dribble and get inside. The Orange shot 6-for-25 from deep and just 31.5 percent overall. The middle was packed. SU tried working the high post but that failed. On several occasions, Howard was frustrated to see Marek Dolezaj or Brissett not flash to the high post. The Orange tried setting outside screens, too, but Duke applied perimeter pressure to those.That Syracuse could find little offense out of the high post and off the dribble made SU settle for passes around the perimeter, which led to outside shots. Howard said he was comfortable with every 3-pointer he took, even though he was just 2-for-10 from deep. He had been 0-for-7 until he hit two in a row at the end of the game. Duke elevated its forwards, Howard said, to further disrupt SU’s shots outside.“We’re definitely more of a perimeter-oriented team, and they understood that,” Howard said. “They did a great job of adjusting. Against other teams, we might want to pack it in a little more or kind of force guys into some looks on the outside or not let them get in the middle. We allowed them to get in the middle for whatever reason, but then they wanted to take us out the game.”The solutions are clear to both Boeheim and his players. First, the shots need to fall with more regularity. Second, the Orange could benefit from production out of the high post. And third, passes need to be crisper, players said. After one of several SU passes was stolen, assistant coach Allen Griffin perked up. “Bounce that,” he said, as the Orange committed 17 turnovers, 13 of them steals by Duke.Two games remain on Syracuse’s regular-season schedule, and the ACC Tournament looms in 10 days. Boston College, which SU scored 81 points against last month, hosts the Orange on Wednesday night. In the teams’ last contest, Syracuse shot 29-for-48 from the field and 7-for-16 from deep, an effort SU will try to replicate its next time out.Because if its big three fails to kick-start the offense, SU’s NCAA Tournament hopes could slide.“They really did a good job with Ty(us) and staying close to him,” Boeheim said. “We got the… We don’t convert in there very well. Oshae has to score for us in that area, and he couldn’t get anything going today. They did a good job staying with Tyus like we did with Grayson (Allen). They didn’t make any 3s until the last one and we did a pretty good job on the 3-point line.“You’re not going to win the game if you don’t score.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more