It seems like when Duke and Syracuse meet, an instant classic is likely on the way. Maybe conference realignment isn’t so bad after all. (Okay, I’m kidding on that one.)
The first time these two teams met in the regular season as ACC foes, Syracuse pulled out a memorable win in overtime that captured the attention of college basketball fans on a very busy Saturday. Later that season, Duke held off the Orange in Durham with Jim Boeheim flipping out.
What would they do this time around? Would it be another memorable game?
Syracuse has rallied a lot lately, although they lost in Atlanta on Sunday, their third straight heading into Wednesday night. This time around, they were down by eight at the half and hit nine of their first 11 shots after intermission to tie it. Then it was tight the rest of the way, as neither team led by more than three after that. It looked like we were headed for another classic finish between these two storied programs.
With the game tied, Luke Kennard missed a jumper that would have put Duke on top, then Tyler Lydon got the ball to John Gillon, who has been Mr. Clutch for Syracuse. Gillon got the ball up the floor, though perhaps not as fast as he might have liked, and had to hurry. He might have seen a couple of nights earlier, when Texas Tech made too many passes and couldn’t get off a shot at the end of their loss to Iowa State. Or he might have just channeled the energy of those past Duke-Syracuse games.
In any event, Gillon put it up from well behind the arc with a second left, may or may not have called “glass” (there is no confirmation of whether or not he did), and watched it bank off the glass and in to give Syracuse a 78-75 win as some fans ran out onto the floor. Syracuse had one more good win – they have a couple already, and in a year with a soft bubble that might have been enough.
And college basketball had another Duke-Syracuse instant classic.
Duke. Syracuse. Instant Classic. Seems to happen so often when these two teams meet.
— Phil Kasiecki (@PhilKasiecki) February 23, 2017
The comeback of the night might have actually happened a little later out west. Oregon started very slowly, and Dillon Brooks was in early foul trouble at Cal, all leading to their worst offensive half of the season as they trailed 30-16 at the break. But Brooks would lead a furious second-half rally, as they still trailed by ten with four minutes to go, capped by a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to finish with a game-high 22 points and give Oregon a 68-65 win.
Also in the ACC, North Carolina pulled away from Louisville 74-63. At halftime, a Tar Heel fan who mouthed off to Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was ejected from the game, and Pitino had to be restrained by his staff.
A former ACC team was knocked off on its home floor quite convincingly, as Minnesota went to Maryland and used a big second half to beat the Terrapins 89-75. The Golden Gophers have now won six straight games and look very much like an NCAA Tournament team after they looked a little questionable with a mid-season slump.
Butler appears to have Villanova’s number this season, as the visting Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 74-66 to sweep the regular season between the two teams. Also in the Big East, Providence continues to earn a place in the NCAA Tournament conversation, this time eking out a 68-66 win at Creighton.
In the Mountain West, Nevada went up by a game over visiting Boise State by knocking off the Broncos 85-77 behind big games from Marcus Marshall (26 points, eight assists) and Cameron Oliver (21 points, 11 rebounds), while Fresno State went south and beat San Diego State 63-55, going a half game up on the Aztecs in the standings.
Elsewhere, East Tennessee State took a half-game lead on Furman in the Southern Conference with a 93-81 overtime win, outscoring the Paladins 19-7 in the extra session, while Illinois State completed a perfect season at home for the first time in their history by knocked off Southern Illinois in a 50-46 slugfest. Bucknell made their Patriot League regular season title an outright one by blowing out Lafayette 94-64, and Vermont moved one step closer to an undefeated America East run with a 62-50 win over Albany.
In one of the stranger stories of the day, Creighton suspended guard Maurice Watson Jr. indefinitely for misconduct. The senior will not be allowed to participate in any athletic activities, including the upcoming Senior Day, for “alleged actions that are contrary to university policies and core values,” according to the school. Watson is, of course, done for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee over a month ago, so the most consequential result is missing Senior Day, as well as being with the team.
Not far from there, Tim Miles addressed speculation about his future at Nebraska on Wednesday. Finishing his fifth season at the school, Miles said he wants to remain there and feels he has a positive relationship with athletic director Shawn Eichorst and executive associate athletic director Marc Boehm. The Cornhuskers have not made the NCAA Tournament since Miles’ second season in Lincoln and are 12-14 overall this season, 6-8 in Big Ten play. Injuries, including a foot injury to forward Ed Morrow Jr., have played a role.
- We get going with Georgia at Alabama in the SEC and a Big Ten matchup with Nebraska at Michigan State (7 p.m.) leading the way. Later, Wisconsin goes to Ohio State in another Big Ten affair (9 p.m.)
- The best game out west is Arizona hosting USC (10 p.m.), with Colorado hosting Utah in the last game of the night (11 p.m.)
- The Atlantic Sun closes out its regular season with a full slate of games tipping at 7 p.m., with the best matchup being Lipscomb at Kennesaw State.
- The CAA starts its closing weekend with a full slate that is led by third-place Towson at conference leader UNCW (7 p.m.)