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Syracuse stays unbeaten, holds off Duke 91-89 in OT

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – One day before the real thing, Duke and Syracuse played college basketball’s version of the Super Bowl.

Saturday night’s game featured the two most successful coaches in Division I history (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim), two of the nation’s top freshmen (Duke’s Jabari Parker and Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis), and an NCAA on-campus record crowd of 35,446 at the Carrier Dome.

And the game was an instant classic. The No. 17 Blue Devils sent the game into overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer at the end of regulation, but the No. 2 Orange outlasted Duke 91-89 behind Jerami Grant’s eight overtime points and Tyler Ennis’ four free throws in the final 71 seconds.

“If you paid $3,400 on the market for a courtside seat, it was money well spent,” Boeheim said. “And if you sold your tickets for this game you should be ashamed, because you made some money but missed an epic.”

The Orange had a 3-point lead, 78-75, with 4.6 seconds remaining in regulation after Ennis sank a pair of free throws. But Duke, which had committed a turnover with the chance to win the game in the closing seconds, sent the game into overtime on Rasheed Sulaimon’s 3-pointer at buzzer.

With Duke forwards Parker and Amile Jefferson having fouled out, the Orange took advantage of the low-post mismatch, as Grant had three dunks and two free throws in overtime.

“We scrambled a lot because of our foul trouble and they (the Blue Devils) scrambled enough to put us in a position to win,” Krzyzewski said. “I can’t ask my team to play any harder than they did tonight.”

C.J. Fair led the Orange with 28 points, while Grant added 24 and 12 rebounds. Sulaimon led the Blue Devils with 16 points, while Parker had 15 points and nine rebounds before fouling out.

With the scored tied at 56, Fair, the ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year selection, scored 10 of Syracuse’s next 12 points as the Orange tried to pull away.

But Duke reserve guard Tyler Thornton, who hadn’t scored in the game to that point, sank three consecutive 3-pointers, keeping the Blue Devils within striking distance in the closing minutes.

The Orange improved to 21-0, the best start in program history. The 2011-12 team that finished 34-3 and advanced to the Elite Eight started 20-0 before losing its first game.

Syracuse (8-0 in the ACC) is one of only three undefeated teams in Division I. No. 4 Wichita State improved to 23-0 by defeating Evansville Saturday, while No. 1 Arizona (21-0) plays at California Saturday night.

Duke, which had won five consecutive games, fell to 17-5 and 6-3 in the ACC.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Fair said. “This rivalry seems like it’s been going on for 30 years, but this is just the beginning. For us to come out and win is big.”

Earlier in the week, Syracuse announced that the game was a sellout with 35,446 tickets sold. That smashed the on-campus record set at Syracuse last season, when 35,012 attended the final Carrier Dome game between the Orange and Georgetown as Big East Conference opponents.

“You can’t go anywhere else in the country and have this kind of atmosphere,” Grant said.

Saturday’s game was the first ACC game between Duke and Syracuse — and the first matchup between Krzyzewski and Boeheim since they became the two winningest coaches in Division I history.

Krzyzewski ranks first with 974 wins, while Boeheim is second with 940. Boeheim holds the record for most wins at one school (all 940), while Krzyzewski recently earned his 900th win at Duke.

“We’re coaching for our teams and our schools. It’s not like, you know, a twinge; he wasn’t twinging and I wasn’t twinging,” Krzyzewski said. “We did both what we were supposed to do. We coached our butts off and our teams played hard.”

The game was also a national showcase for freshman-of-the-year candidates Parker, a 6-foot-8 power forward, and Ennis, a 6-2 point guard. While Ennis (14 points, nine assists) hit the clutch free throws at the end, Parker had to watch overtime after being whistled for an offensive foul and fouling out with 1:42 remaining in regulation.

Trailing 20-18, the Orange went on

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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