Sunday, February 02, 2014


Yes, everyone at the old Kanockers household is happy that Pop picking Duke was just one more made 3 away from being right, including Pop.

Consider, to win by two, Syracuse had to shoot over 57% from the field, 75% from behind the arc and convert 26-32 from the line. That is being pushed to the limit and meeting the challenge.

Every great game has amazing individual story lines and this was no exception. C.J. Fair dropping 28 on 12-20 shooting. Jerami Grant’s (24 pts) devastating mid-range game, huge 10-10 from the foul line and game leading 12 boards was pivotal. Rakeem Christmas’ 9 blocks and 10 rebs frustrated Jabari Parker who eventually fouled out and Tyler Ennis handed out 9 assists and converted 8-8 from the line. Trevor Cooney was solid offensively although he clearly lost his mind in the last 1:30 of regulation – if you watched the game, you know.

Looking at only the SU half of the box score the game looked like it should have been SU by 15 instead of the OT nail biter.  Duke was not without its stars. The Blue Devils hung 89 on a Syracuse defense that has consistently held teams to less than 60. Duke grabbed 18 offensive boards, Parker and Jefferson combining for 11. Rasheed Sulaimon and Andre Dawkins came off the bench to drop a combined 30 on 8-16 shooting from three. The weak links were, surprisingly, Parker (6-16), although he grabbed 9 boards, and Quinn Cook, 2-12 from the field including a disastrous 1- 8 from three.

Unlike the SU team that has stood tall in finishing close games, Duke took advantage of three Orange brain cramps in the final 1:30 of regulation. Following a Parker turnover with SU up 3, and with the Duke defensive working hard to keep the ball out of Tyler Ennis’ hands, Trevor Cooney brought the ball up, dribbled around the perimeter for several seconds, drove wildly to the basket from the right corner, tossed up an ugly, off balance shot that, surprisingly, at least hit the backboard. Duke grabbed the rebound after Cooney’s 14 Second Excursion. Looked like MCW  end game clock management from last season. After Quinn Cook’s two free throws and a Tyler Ennis made jumper (only one of two shots he took in the second half) Cooney fouled Sulaimon on a made 3 that tied the game at 75-75. Fortunately, Sulaimon missed the free throw, and Christmas rebounded.

Jefferson fouled Christmas on the possession. Christmas hit one of two free throws for a 76-75 lead with 30 seconds left on the clock. After a Duke time out, Christmas turned over Dawkins and got the ball to Ennis. Ennis was fouled and converted both free throws for a 78 – 75 lead. Finally, with 4 seconds remaining, SU up 3, Duke in bounded the ball and while SU was unable to foul anybody, Sulaimon drove the ball to the arc and hit a three to tie at the buzzer.

OT was as tight as regulation. With Jefferson and Parker both fouling out Duke had nothing inside. SU scored on three of its  next four possessions on Jerami Grant dunks, all assisted by Ennis. Still, Andre Dawkins scored 8 points on two 3’s and a lay up to give Duke an 87-84 lead with 1:23 remaining.

Ennis hit a pair of FT’s to close to 87-86. After Dawkins missed a three, Jerami Grant hit two FT’s for an 88-87 SU lead. While Rodney Hood missed an overly aggressive dunk attempt, Ennis fouled Sulaimon with 9 seconds left. He hit both FT’s giving Duke the lead, 89-88. SU pulled ahead 90-89 on Tyler Ennis’ two FT’s with 6 seconds remaining.

Then, with SU up 1 and possession, the officials choked. While C.J. Fair dribbled up the right side, two defenders hammered him. One with a two handed push in the small of the back while the other simply ran him over, knocking Fair to the floor.

While Duke defender Dick Vitale called it a clear, intentional foul, the officiating crew retired to the monitor to review the play for a flagrant call. After watching the mugging, the crew called nothing but a common personal. Vitale and McWhoCares readily volunteered that they could easily understand the call. An intentional or flagrant call would mean foul shots and possession effectively securing an SU win, and who would want the game decided that way? As always, no need to let adherence to the rules stand in the way of a potential Duke win.

Fair sank 1 of 2 at the line and Quinn Cook missed a jumper on Duke’s last possession – game over, blood pressure back to nearly normal.

Freak Occurrences

When was the last time Duke played a half without getting into the bonus? Never? (It happened in the first half.)

When was the last time SU won a game by hitting 7-8 at the line in the last 1:11? Never? (Probably.)

When was the last time I listened to Dick Vitale without using the mute button or dropping f-bombs? Not now, not ever!

V -

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