SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Dismayed, Andre Dawkins hung his head. So close to knocking off one of those three unbeatens."We just needed one more play, whether it was a rebound or a shot going in," he said. "We just needed one play."
Duke didn't make that play Saturday night at the Carrier Dome in one of the more highly anticipated games of the season.
Jerami Grant scored eight points in overtime to finish with a career-high 24 and Jim Boeheim's No. 2 Orange topped Mike Krzyzewski's No. 17 Blue Devils, 91-89, on Saturday in a matchup of the two winningest coaches in Division I history.
"Both teams played with so much heart," Krzyzewski said. "We were scrambling a lot because of our foul trouble and our kids scrambled well. They scrambled well enough to put us in a position to win. The last minute and in overtime we had an open 3 and a rim dunk (miss). Just a tough loss."
The Orange withstood a tying 3-pointer in regulation and won before an arena-record crowd of 35,446.
"We've had a lot of games that have been here that are great. There's never been one as good as this one," Boeheim said after career victory No. 941.
C.J. Fair scored a career-best 28 points as Syracuse (21-0, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) set a school record for consecutive wins to start a season. The Orange, top-ranked Arizona, and No. 4 Wichita State are the only unbeatens.
Grant took control in the extra period, slamming home three dunks as Duke was forced to downsize after Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson fouled out in the final two minutes of regulation.
"They were playing small. We knew we had a lot of mismatches around the court," Grant said. "After I got the first dunk, they just kept feeding me."
Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon beat the buzzer in regulation with an off-balance 3-pointer that tied it at 78. The Blue Devils led, 87-84, with 80 seconds remaining in overtime before Syracuse rallied.
"We put ourselves in good position down the stretch," Dawkins said. "We had a dunk hit off the rim, whether it was a foul or not, it wasn't called.
"We're getting better," said Dawkins, who hit two 3s in the extra period but missed another. "(Saturday), I think we regressed a little bit in terms of our defense, but our offense we did a lot of good things. We've just got to get back to playing the defense that we have been playing the last few games."
Syracuse students camped out in the bitter cold for nearly two weeks and were part of a crowd that was charged up from the start for the first ACC meeting between these longtime powers. It was Duke's first game against the Orange in the Carrier Dome.
Jabari Parker had 15 points and nine rebounds for Duke (17-5, 6-3). The Blue Devils, who had won five in a row, get their chance to avenge the loss in three weeks when the teams meet again at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
From the moment Boeheim and Krzyzewski walked onto Jim Boeheim Court to a deafening roar and hugged at midcourt surrounded by a sea of orange, the atmosphere was electric. Singing and acting star Vanessa Williams, a Syracuse alum and former Miss America, performed the national anthem.
The game was chock full of story lines, well before the tipoff.
Two Hall of Fame coaches and good friends with a combined 1,914 wins who had only met twice before on opposing benches, each winning once. Boeheim's signature 2-3 zone defense vs. Krzyzewski's intense man-to-man.
Fair, Syracuse's leading scorer, vs. Dawkins, a fifth-year senior who leads the ACC in 3-point shooting. Parker vs. Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis, two of the most accomplished freshmen in the country.
The game was tied at 78 after regulation, and there were two more ties in the extra session. Dawkins hit a follow and a 3 from the top of the key as Duke took a three-point lead with 1:20 left.
Two free throws by Ennis got Syracuse within one and two more by Grant put the Orange up, 88-87, with 39 seconds remaining.
Duke's Rodney Hood missed a dunk attempt against Rakeem Christmas with 12.2 seconds remaining – Hood wanted a foul but nothing was called. Two more free throws by Ennis as Jefferson fouled out made it 90-87.
Sulaimon sank a pair of free throws for Duke to make it a one-point game with 9.4 seconds to go. Fair made one of two from the foul line with 5.5 seconds to go.
Duke scrambled to get off a last shot and Quinn Cook missed a rushed fling from the right wing at the buzzer as Syracuse escaped.
Grant had 12 rebounds. Trevor Cooney and Ennis each scored 14 points for the Orange.
Ennis had nine assists with two turnovers in a game in which both teams committed just eight.
Sulaimon finished with 16 points. Jefferson, Dawkins, and Hood each had 14 for Duke, which shot 15 for 36 on 3s.
Parker's three-point play at 11:05 gave Duke a 56-54 lead, its first since just past the midpoint of the opening half. But just when he seemed set to spark the Blue Devils, Parker picked up two quick fouls to give him four and Dawkins was whistled for his fourth just over a minute later.
Fair responded by scoring eight points as the Orange went up 66-59 with 6:37 left. Undaunted, Tyler Thornton rescued Duke with three 3-pointers in less than two minutes and Parker's basket underneath tied it at 70-all with 3:53 to play.
Sulaimon hit two 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation. He got a chance at a four-point play, but missed the foul shot with 47.6 seconds left.