Tyus Battle scored 32 points, including 21 in the second half, to lead Syracuse (12-5) to an upset victory in overtime against #1 Duke 95-91.
Syracuse snapped Duke’s nine-game winning streak with their stifling zone defense. The top-ranked Blue Devils (14-2) lost for only the second time this season. Gonzaga beat Duke at the start of the season to win the Maui Invitational.
Duke suffered a rare home-loss to an unraked team and struggled shooting only 21 percent from three-point range. The ACC conference game also included a stunning halftime buzzer beater from the opposing foul line. Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes unleashed a Hail Mary shot as time expired. The successful three-pointer cut Duke’s lead to 49-48.
Duke’s top freshman Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett combined for 58 points and 26 rebounds in a losing cause. Duke played the game without two key starters. Cam Reddish was out at the last second due to an illness. Point guard Tre Jones injured himself early in the game and did not return.
Elijah Hughes did not squander the final possession before halftime. With 2.7 seconds remaining in the first half and Syracuse down by four points, Hughes received an inbounds pass. He lost control for a moment and quickly recovered. He took two dribbles along the sideline and hurled a desperation shot. Hughes nailed a legitimate three-quarter-court shot, which stunned the home crowd in Durham, North Carolina.
FROM THREE QUARTERS COURT pic.twitter.com/uK9kIjOZtS
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 15, 2019
Hughes finished the game with 20 points and 5 rebounds. The junior averages 15 points per game this season.
“When that shot went in, it just showed what kind of night it was for them, said Duke’s Zion Williamson, “It seemed like everything they threw up was just bottom of the net. They just hit a lot of shots.”
The “human-meme-generator” Zion Williamson scored a career-high 35 points. It marked a Duke record for most points by a freshman. The Duke center also added 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. He also added four blocks.
“(Zion) is hard to handle,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. “He’s a physical specimen. He’s like Charles Barkley, except he shoots better. And he’s not as fat. I have not seen any player like him. He’s just a great player.”
Williamson hit a free throw to tie the game with 16 seconds remaining. However, he missed the second one and missed an opportunity to put Duke ahead by a point. Syracuse missed their last-ditch shot and the game went into overtime. Williamson finished the night 10-for-14 from the charity stripe. He is a 70.7 percent free throw shooter on the season.
Last week, Williamson set a career high with 30 points against Wake Forest. For this season, Williamson averages 20.3 points per game and 9.4 rebounds.