Duke Survives a Battle With the Syracuse Zone

CT has five players with double-digit scoring averages, including 6-foot-6 forward Azurá Stevens, who was the Blue Devils' best player and a first-team All-ACC honoree two years ago before transferring to the Huskies. The Blue Devils have covered the spread in both instances to move to 22-11 ATS on the season and 12-7 ATS away from home.

The win by Duke (29-7) set up a 1 vs. 2 showdown against Kansas, which also escaped with a four-point win earlier against Clemson.

In the 11 contests between these two premiere programs, the Blue Devils lead the Orange 6-5.

How insane were the first two rounds of this NCAA Tournament?

Sharp-shooting Grayson Allen missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12 seconds left and Duke up 67-64.

"We turned the ball over a little too much in the first half", said Battle, who led the Orange with 19 points.

What makes tonight's matchup with Duke all the more interesting, however, is that the Blue Devils have adopted a zone defense in the latter portion of the season - thanks to the influence of Boeheim on his friend and colleague Krzyzewski.

"This was a really outstanding game because points were tough to come by", Krzyzewski said.

Syracuse led for nearly 11 minutes, but the Orange didn't score in the final five-plus minutes of the half.

"We just kind of played not to lose down the stretch", Self said. The team shoots 38.3 percent for the season from behind the arc, with its starting backcourt Gary Trent Jr. "Thank goodness they got out of it".

Marvin Bagley III (left) of Duke, dunking over Bourama Sidibe of Syracuse, had 22 points. He will pass Jabari Parker for most points scored with 15 more, he's already averaging two more points per game than Parker, he's averaging more rebounds per game than Mike Gminski, and the accolades continue on and on. Duke is the second seeded team in the bracket and defeated the Orange earlier in the season, 60-44.

Featuring freshman big man Wendell Carter Jr.in the middle, the zone enables Duke to benefit from his 7-foot-3 wingspan while simultaneously covering up for his inevitable mistakes. "Nothing fazes them. (Friday), things weren't going our way for a long time, but they just kept coming back". Boeheim is no stranger to the underdog role, as he is just two years removed from leading his Syracuse team to the Final Four as a 10-seed. "I love their team".

Duke and Syracuse will meet for the second time in a month Friday night in Omaha, this time with a spot in the Elite 8 on the line.

Even with his new elbow accessory, Boilermakers coach Matt Painter all but ruled Haas out for Friday's game against Texas Tech. Just the threat of Bagley lurking down low, awaiting a lob or entry pass, opens up the offense for everyone else.

It was a much-needed performance for Battle, especially with his two main counterparts, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett, struggling.

On the flip side, Duke's zone defense (it still sounds weird to hear that phrase) created problems for the Orange. The Blue Devils have surrendered more than 70 points on one occasion since losing to North Carolina on the road on February 8, though the squad has posted 80 points or more in five of those 11 contests.


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