Powerhouses Duke and Syracuse collide in spotlight game


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Updated: 2/01 11:11 am Published: 2/01 9:47 am


Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - In front of what is expected to be a record-setting crowd, the second-ranked Syracuse Orange will put their perfect record on the line, as they play host to the 17th-ranked Duke Blue Devils in a marquee ACC matchup at the Carrier Dome on Saturday evening.

Jim Boeheim's Orange knocked off Wake Forest on the road this week to open the season 20-0, matching the school-record set by the 2011-12 squad. With the win, Syracuse moved to a flawless 7-0 in its first season in the ACC and extended Jim Boeheim's NCAA Division I record of 20-win campaigns to 36.

Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are certainly within striking distance of the Orange in the ACC standings, thanks to their current five-game win streak, Duke took on another new powerhouse to the league this week and looked impressive in an 80-65 win at Pittsburgh last time out. With the win, Duke moved to 17-4 overall and 6-2 in league play.

These two new conference foes have met just four prior times, with the series split 2-2. Duke won the most recent matchup, an 80-67 decision in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

The names have changed in Durham, but efficient play has not. The Blue Devils remain one of the most dangerous programs in the country, averaging 81.5 ppg and doing so on .472 shooting, including a sizzling .414 from behind the arc. The team is averaging 9.4 3-pointers per game, while allowing just 4.0. Freshman phenom Jabari Parker has definitely lived up to expectations. The 6- foot-9 youngster leads Duke in scoring (18.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg), ranking in the top-five in the ACC in both categories. Transfer Rodney Hood has made an immediate impact as well, ranking sixth in the league in scoring (17.4 ppg), thanks in large part to his sizzling .448 effort from long range. Point guard Quinn Cook is the perfect complement, with his ability to both score (12.4 ppg) and distribute (5.5 apg) at a high level.

The Blue Devils beat the Panthers at their own game, outrebounding the top rebounding team in the ACC, 37-32 and outshooting Pittsburgh .483 to .412. Duke once again utilized its long-range acumen, hitting 13-of-25 from behind the arc in the 15-point win. Parker was once again dominant, recording a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Andre Dawkins was lethal from 3- point range, draining 6-of-7 shots en route to a 20-point effort off the bench. Amile Jefferson joined Parker with a double-double of his own (14 pts, 10 rebs) and Hood rounded things out with 13 points in the win.

Freshman Tyler Ennis netted 16 of his game-high 18 points in the second half, as the Orange remained unbeaten on the season with a 10-point win in Winston- Salem. Senior C.J. Fair finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Jerami Grant recorded his fourth double-double of the season, with 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Syracuse didn't shoot the ball particularly well (.362), but offset that by holding a huge 55-35 advantage in rebounding.

Playing some of the nation's best defense, Syracuse is holding foes to a meager 57.8 ppg on just .408 shooting. The team also enjoys a +6.0 rebounding margin and an eye-popping +5.2 turnover margin, while ranking among the nation's top-10 in fewest turnovers (9.5 per game). Offensively, the Orange possess balance. Fair, the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, leads the team in scoring at 16.7 ppg. Trevor Cooney (13.2 ppg) is the team's resident sniper (57 3-pointers), while Ennis (12.3 ppg, 5.5 apg) runs the point. Grant (12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) has transitioned into a starting role and provides further depth.


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