The Duke basketball team picked up a major road victory on Saturday night against the Syracuse Orange and the Blue Devils needed a total team effort.
In what many considered the toughest four game stretch of the season for the Duke Blue Devils, Mike Krzyzewski‘s team passed the first test by defeating the Syracuse Orange on Saturday night in the Carrier Dome.
In front of the biggest crowd at a college basketball game this season, Duke was able to erase an early lead for the Orange and hold off a late comeback attempt from Syracuse as the Blue Devils came away with a 97-88 victory.
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Syracuse’s largest lead of the game came at 21-14 at halftime, but the Blue Devils rallied to take a 40-36 lead at halftime.
Duke sprinted out of the gates in the second half, extending its lead to as large as 15 points but with just over three minutes to play, Syracuse made it a five point game as its record crowd became fully engaged, but the Blue Devils quickly quieted the crowd thanks to two magnificent plays from Cassius Stanley.
The Orange scored 28 of its 88 points from the free throw line as the Blue Devils were whistled for 29 fouls in the game as the Duke defense was very good, holding Syracuse to 38.6 percent shooting from the field.
Saturday night was the start of a three game road trip for Duke and it came with the return of freshman Wendell Moore who had not played since January 4 after breaking a bone in his hand in the win over Miami, which required surgery.
Moore played 24 minutes in his return, coming off the bench, but the Blue Devils were down two coaches, Jon Scheyer, who needed an emergency appendectomy on Saturday and Nolan Smith who remained in Durham as he dealt with a family medical situation.
Duke still has two road games left on this trip (Boston College and North Carolina) before returning to Durham to play the Florida State Seminoles next week in Cameron Indoor Stadium.