The rematch on Saturday night was not the same high-scoring affair as the first meeting, but it certainly had drama.
There was an electric atmosphere at Cameron Indoor Stadium, one of the most special venues in all of college basketball. It was fitting that this contest, like the first one, went down to the wire.
Syracuse was down two points in the final seconds. It came down to a difficult block-charge call with barely 10 seconds left that led to the loss for the Orange. C.J. Fair drove to the basket, made contact with Rodney Hood, and Fair was called for a charge. The call set coach Jim Boeheim into a rage.
I hate to see a close game end that way, but after watching the replay, there was no doubt that the Hall of Fame coach deserved two technicals and his ejection. The charge called on Fair was a close call that could have gone either way, but Boeheim was clearly out of the coaching box and quite upset. I am not sure what he said, but that doesn't matter -- his actions gave the officials no choice.
Duke went on to make 3 of 4 free throws from the two technicals, putting the game away.
Syracuse doesn't have much time to regroup, as it faces a tough task at Maryland on Monday.
One thing that had to concern Boeheim was the lack of offensive production from his backcourt. Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney combined for 13 points, hitting just 3-of-18 from the field between them. Fair, who had 28 points in the first matchup, was limited to 12 on Saturday.
Jabari Parker showed why he is the premier diaper dandy in America. He was a force inside on the glass and as a scorer, collecting his 11th double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Hood was able to exploit the Syracuse zone defense at times, finishing with 13 points.
Syracuse's loss meant the Orange went from No. 1 in the national rankings to No. 2 in the ACC. Virginia moved ahead in the league race at 14-1. The Orange and Cavaliers will meet Saturday in a pivotal game.