SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Vernon Carey Jr. had 26 points and a season-high 17 rebounds for the 10th double-double of his freshman season and No. 9 Duke beat Syracuse 97-88 on Saturday night.
Cassius Stanley keyed an early second-half surge and the Blue Devils (18-3, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their third straight after a two-game skid.
It was a crucial game for Syracuse (13-9, 6-5), which had a five-game winning streak snapped on the road at Clemson on Tuesday night and needed a signature win to bolster its resume for consideration for the NCAA Tournament.
Stanley had 15 points, Tre Jones had 17, Matthew Hurt had 12 and Alex O’Connell 11 for Duke. Carey, a low-post presence who’s been adept at drawing fouls, has eight 20-10 games.
Duke shot 31 of 54 (57.4%) and was 16 of 26 in the second half while holding Syracuse’s sharpshooters in check. Buddy Boeheim (75) and Elijah Hughes (59) were ranked third nationally among 3-point basket duos with 134. They finished 3 of 16 from long range and 10 of 32 overall.
Marek Dolezaj led Syracuse with 22 points. Hughes finished with 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting and was 1 of 9 from behind the arc.
After a tight first period, Duke started the second half with a 9-1 spurt led by Stanley, who started it with a 3-pointer, fed Carey with a pretty lob, and hit a fallaway jumper for a 49-39 lead at 17:52.
Syracuse got within 71-61 on consecutive 3s by Joe Girard and Boeheim in a span of 16 seconds with just over eight minutes left as the raucous home crowd of 31,458 erupted, but Hurt followed with a 3 for Duke to keep the Blue Devils in front.
Syracuse closed within 79-74 on Bourama Sidibe’s tip-in off a miss by Hughes with 3:11 to go, but Stanley converted a three-point play and Jones hit a pair of free throws to restore the double-digit lead.
Duke outrebounded Syracuse 41-35. The Orange have been outrebounded four times in their five ACC losses
FIRST HALF STANDSTILL
Syracuse led the entire first half until the final minute, and two free throws by Hughes gave the Orange their biggest lead, 21-14, with 9:11 left. Boeheim and Hughes combined to shoot 1 for 9 from long range. The Orange finished the half 1 of 12 from behind the arc. O’Connell’s pass underneath to Javin DeLaurier for a lay-in tied it at 36 with 1:15 to go and O’Connell sank two free throws with 36.1 seconds left to give the Blue Devils their first lead. DeLaurier’s layup made it 40-36 at the break.
A moment of silence was observed before the game for Kobe Bryant after the former Los Angeles Lakers star and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine victims of a helicopter crash in the foggy hills above Calabasas, California, last Sunday.
Duke freshman Wendell Moore Jr., who had missed the previous six games with a broken right hand, returned to the lineup. Before the injury, he was averaging 7.4 points and 3.9 rebounds and Duke had gone 4-2 during his absence. Moore, who suffered a broken fourth metacarpal at Miami on Jan. 4, finished with five points and fouled out.
The first Carrier Dome crowd of the season to surpass 30,000 was already guaranteed at mid-week as ticket sales were approaching 31,000, the 84th time attendance has surpassed 30,000. A year ago the game between the rivals drew 35,642, which eclipsed by 196 the record for largest on-campus crowd in college basketball history the teams had set the previous time the Blue Devils were in town.
Duke: The Blue Devils have been in the top 10 for 37 consecutive weeks and will stay there. Five players in double figures is difficult to beat.
Syracuse: The Orange cannot afford to shoot poorly from behind the arc if they hope to make a late-season surge.
Duke: Blue Devils remain on the road with a game at Boston College on Tuesday night.
Syracuse: Orange host Wake Forest next Saturday night.