Zoned out: Bagley, Duke take down Syracuse
Duke found a way to crack Syracuse’s zone defense, and now the Blue Devils are back in the Elite Eight for the first time since the 2015 team won it all.
Freshman Marvin Bagley III turned in a giant second-half effort, and second-seeded Duke held off the 11th-seeded Orange in a 69-65 chess match of a victory in the Midwest Region semifinals Friday night.
All that talk about busted brackets and the maddest March ever — not happening in the Midwest.
The win by Duke (29-7) set up a 1 vs. 2 showdown against Kansas, which also escaped with a four-point win earlier against Clemson.
Syracuse (23-14), the last at-large team invited to the tournament, saw its unlikely run to the Sweet 16 end — unable to overcome 16 turnovers against a Mike Krzyzewski-designed zone that was every bit as pesky as Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3.
Bagley scored 13 of his 22 points and had all eight of his rebounds in the second half. Seven of those boards were on the offensive end and led to second-chance baskets.
But Syracuse stayed in it until the end. Not until Gary Trent Jr., made two free throws with 6.3 seconds left was this game sealed.
Battle led the Orange with 19 points.