Duke basketball uses monster second half in victory over Syracuse

The Duke basketball team rode a hot shooting second half to a victory over Syracuse.
Jan 2, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA;  Duke Blue Devils center Kyle Filipowski (30) controls the
Jan 2, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Kyle Filipowski (30) controls the / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It feels cliche to say the Duke basketball game on Tuesday night was a tale of two halves -- but it could not be more true in this instance.

Despite playing a game following its Christmas break and before 2024 began, the Blue Devils looked sluggish and out of position in the first half against Syracuse.

Duke shot just 37.1-percent from the field to begin the game, missed all nine of its 3-point attempts, and saw Kyle Filipowski, Ryan Young, Jeremy Roach, and Sean Stewart all pick up at least two fouls.

Tyrese Proctor, who came off the bench for the second straight game, did not score and without Mark Mitchell's 18 points, Jon Scheyer's team would have been major trouble.

Then, the second half started. It felt impossible to need just 15 minutes to erase a forgetful half into an unforgettable half.

Duke scored 51 points in the final 20 minutes of the game, shooting 75-percent from the floor (18-for-24) and 8-for-8 from 3-point range in the 86-66 victory.

It was more impressive than video game numbers. Four different players scored at least 10 points in the half and Syracuse (10-4, 1-2 ACC) simply didn't have any answers.

Mitchell led the team with 21 points but Jared McCain, shooting 4-for-4 from 3-point range in the second half, extended his streak of games with at least 13 points to five straight with 18 points in the winning effort.

Filipowski was also scoreless the first half and did not miss a shot in the second half to finish with 12 points as Proctor overcame his scoreless half to end the night with 10 points.

No. 14 Duke (10-4, 1-1 ACC), which has yet to win a true road game this season, will play its next to games away from Cameron Indoor Stadium beginning on Saturday night (6:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network) against Notre Dame (6-7, 1-1 ACC).