The No. 14 Duke Blue Devils continued their dominance over longtime ACC rival Syracuse, defeating the Orange 86-66 on Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Led by freshmen Mark Mitchell and Kyle Filipowski, Duke pulled away in the second half to extend its head-to-head winning streak over Syracuse to 6 games.
Duke Builds Big Halftime Lead Behind Mitchell, Filipowski
Duke sophomore guard Jared McCain got the Blue Devils going early, knocking down a pair of three-pointers in the opening minutes. But it was Mitchell and Filipowski who really ignited the Duke offense. The freshman duo combined for 27 first-half points on 11-of-16 shooting as the Blue Devils built a 44-29 lead at the break.
“Mark and Kyle played with great poise and confidence in the first half,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. “We did a good job getting them the ball in positions to score and they delivered.”
Mitchell showed off his versatile scoring ability, beating defenders off the dribble while also connecting on two first-half three-pointers. The 6-foot-8 wing finished the opening frame with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Meanwhile, Filipowski dominated in the post with his size and skill, tallying 12 first-half points.
“They have two really dynamic freshmen in Mitchell and Filipowski,” Syracuse coach Adrian Autry said at halftime. “We knew they were capable scorers but they really hurt us in that first half.”
Second Half Run Helps Duke Pull Away
Clinging to a 53-45 lead early in the second half, Duke ripped off a 13-2 run to break the game open. Transfer guard Tyrese Proctor scored 5 quick points during the burst, while McCain and Filipowski added baskets to give the Blue Devils a 66-47 cushion.
Syracuse cut the deficit to 14 points on a couple of occasions midway through the second half. But Duke had an answer each time, with Mitchell scoring on aggressive drives to the rim to keep Syracuse at bay.
Two late three-pointers by McCain put the finishing touches on Duke’s 20-point victory. The Blue Devils shot 55.6% for the game while holding Syracuse to just 38.3% shooting.
“We played a complete game at both ends,” Scheyer said. “I loved how we moved the ball and played with purpose offensively. And defensively, we made everything difficult for them.”
Mitchell, McCain Star as Duke’s New Era Rolls On
Mitchell finished with a season-high 22 points along with 5 rebounds to lead Duke, which improved to 10-3 overall and 1-1 in ACC play under first-year coach Scheyer. McCain poured in five three-pointers in adding 21 points, while Filipowski controlled the paint with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
“This is a new era for Duke basketball with Coach Scheyer taking over, but the expectations don’t change,” Mitchell said. “We know teams are gunning for us and we have to bring our best every night.”
Duke continues to integrate a talented freshman class featuring Mitchell, Filipowski, Proctor and Dereck Lively II. And while there have been some growing pains, the Blue Devils served noticed that they remain a force in the ACC with Tuesday’s commanding win over Syracuse.
“We’re still a work in progress but the last couple weeks we’ve started to click more consistently,” Scheyer said. “If we bring that type of effort at both ends night-in and night-out, we can compete against anyone.”
Struggles Continue for Rebuilding Orange
Syracuse has hit a rough patch since opening the season 8-3, having now lost 3 of its last 4 games. Against Duke, sloppy ballhandling doomed the Orange as they committed 17 turnovers which the Blue Devils converted into 24 points.
“You can’t have 17 turnovers at Cameron Indoor against Duke’s talent and athleticism,” Autry said. “We were careless with the ball at times and it fueled their offense.”
Jesse Edwards led Syracuse with 17 points while Judah Mintz added 16 points. But the Orange backcourt duo of Joe Girard III and Symir Torrence shot a combined 2-of-10 for just 7 total points.
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“We didn’t get the guard play tonight we needed to win a game like this on the road,” Autry said. “Jesse and Judah played well but we have to be more consistent in the backcourt.”
At 10-4 overall and 1-1 in conference play, Syracuse faces a daunting schedule over the next couple of weeks. The Orange host No. 13 Virginia on Saturday before traveling to No. 10 Miami next week.
“The ACC is unforgiving and we have a tough stretch coming up,” Autry said. “We need to learn from this game and get back to work. But I’m confident in this group.”
So while the outcome was familiar, Duke’s dominant performance sent a message that the Scheyer era is off to a strong start in Durham. As for Syracuse, Autry continues to mold a young roster that hopes to return the Orange to national prominence. The next chapter of this iconic rivalry awaits when the two programs meet again at the JMA Wireless Dome on February 25th.
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