Zion Williamson talks about upset loss to Syracuse
No.1 Duke got freshman standout Zion Williamson back from an eye injury put lost two other freshman starters while losing its first ACC game of the season on Monday night.
Playing without Cam Reddish (illness) and Tre Jones (shoulder injury), the Blue Devils struggled with perimeter shooting and dropped a 95-91 game in overtime to Syracuse.
Duke (14-2, 3-1 in ACC) made just one shot -- an Alex O’Connell 3-pointer -- over the first three minutes of overtime and Syracuse built a 93-88 lead.
RJ Barrett sank a 3-pointer at 1:11 cutting the Orange lead to 93-91.
But Paschal Chukwu’s dunk with 44 seconds left gave Syracuse a 95-91 lead. Duke missed three 3-pointers over the rest of the game to suffer the loss.
Duke shot 38 percent overall and made just 9 of 43 3-pointers (20 percent).
Williamson scored 35 points with 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. He had missed the second half of Saturday’s 80-78 win at Florida State with a vision issue after being poked in the eye.
RJ Barrett added 23 points for Duke.
Syracuse (12-5, 3-1 in ACC) received 32 points from Tyus Battle and 20 from Elijah Hughes.
The Blue Devils played the entire game without Reddish, who was out with an illness. Jones left the game with a right shoulder injury with 14:23 to play in the first half and didn’t return.
Battle’s fade-away jumper with 1:11 to play in regulation put Syracuse up 85-84.
Fouled in the lane with 16.2 seconds left, Williamson made one of two free throws leaving the game tied at 85.
Battle had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but his 3-pointer bounced off sending the game to overtime.
Duke led by as many as eight points in the second half but Syracuse climbed back into the game as the Blue Devils struggled with their perimeter shooting.
After O’Connell’s 3-pointer with 10:14 left gave Duke a 75-70 lead, the Blue Devils made just 2 of their next 14 shots. Both baskets were hit by Williamson in the lane.
When Jack White misfired on his eighth consecutive 3-pointer of the game, Chukwu’s rebound basket with 3:06 to play gave the Orange an 81-80 lead.
Marques Bolden’s two free throws put Duke back in front 82-81.
Hughes sank a runner in the lane but Williamson responded with a basket in the lane at 2:20 giving Duke an 84-83 lead.
Earlier in the second half, the Blue Devils lead 60-59 after a Battle slam dunk when they created separation again.
A Javin DeLaurier tip-in started a 7-0 Duke run. Williamson factored in, of course. He sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key. On Duke’s next possession, Williamson faked a 3-pointer then drove through the Orange zone to score inside for a 67-59 Blue Devils lead with 13:38 to play.
Starting the game with Williamson but without Reddish, Duke scored the game’s first 12 points while Syracuse needed nearly five minutes to score its first field goal.
Jones suffered his injury while recording his fourth steal of the game at the 14:23 mark with Duke up 14-6.
Down two starters, the Blue Devils saw their lead slowly disappear as the Orange finally heated up from the field.
Syracuse also took advantage of Jones’ absence to find success driving the ball and getting into the lane to draw fouls.
Battle’s two free throws with 6:17 left in the half tied the game at 29. The game was tied five more times over the remainder of the half, the final time at 42 when an Alex O’Connell 3-pointer erased Syracuse’s largest lead of the half.
That shot started a 10-2 Duke run and the Blue Devils took a 49-44 lead on Barrett’s basket with 1:18 left.
Duke led 49-45 when it worked the clock down for the final shot of the half. But Jack White didn’t get it off in time and Duke lost the ball on a shot-clock violation with 2.7 seconds left.
Syracuse’s Hughes took the ball in-bounds and bobbled it before tossing a 75-foot shot that swished through the nets for an improbable 3-pointer leaving Duke up 49-48 at intermission.