The college basketball game was worth the hype, the moment they started selling “Beat Duke” t-shirts at the start of the fall semester on the Syracuse University campus bookstore. An NCAA on-campus record 35,446 fans witnessed the Syracuse Orange win 91-89 over the Duke Blue Devils in overtime at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night.
The Dome did sell out in one day and was rocking. The record crowd added a Final Four buzz to the game but 10,000 people in the crowd could barely see it. The fact that you were there is what mattered. Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim had combined for more than 1,900 wins at the start of the tip. It was a home game for the Orange but both are capable of coaching their revered programs in front of large crowds.
The Blue Devils were prepared, thanks to having an extra few days off. Plus they were coming off a win against the Pittsburgh Panthers shooting 52 percent from three-point land. The Orange withstood a sensational tying Rasheed Sulaimon three-pointer in regulation. C.J Fair boxed the Orange out of this game in front of the record crowd. Fair scored a career-best 28 points as Syracuse remained undefeated at 21-0, (8-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play), setting a school record for consecutive wins to start a season. “It was just a great game,” Boeheim said after career victory No. 941.
Duke freshman phenom Jabari Parker fouled out in the final two minutes of regulation. “Both teams played with so much heart,” Krzyzewski said. “We were scrambling a lot because of our foul trouble and our kids scrambled well.” Syracuse’s 2-3 zone calmed Duke’s offensive firepower. Duke has lost four straight road games vs top-2 opponents, after winning back-to-back road games against such competition.
Singing and acting star the beautiful Vanessa Williams, a Syracuse alum and former Miss America, performed the national anthem. Makes me wonder if that was a selling point for Syracuse students camped out in the bitter cold for tickets for nearly two weeks.