THE OPENING TIP
- Looking to maintain the hold on sole possession of first place in the ACC standings, No. 7 Duke puts its five-game winning streak on the line Saturday night vs. Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
- The game tips at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN with Dave O’Brien and Cory Alexander on the call. On the radio locally, David Shumate and John Roth call the action on the Blue Devil Sports Network from Learfield.
- Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim have combined for 2,191 wins — the winningest coaches in D-I history.
- Since Syracuse joined the ACC, Duke has won eight of the 12 regular-season meetings. The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 12-6, including 3-2 at the Carrier Dome.
- Duke’s five visits to the Dome have averaged 33,665 in attendance.
- The Blue Devils have won five straight overall and the team’s six-game road winning streak is the longest active by a power conference team. In program history, Duke has had only five ACC road winning streaks longer than the current six-game streak.
- Coach K’s 199 ACC road wins are a conference record.
- Leading the ACC in both field goal defense (.407) and three-point defense (.301), the Blue Devils have allowed opponents to shoot .289 from three-point range since Jan. 1 — the second best three-point defense by a power conference team in that span.
- Duke is 29th nationally this season in defending the three-point line (.301), 45th in field goal defense (.407), 11th in blocked shots (5.6) and seventh in scoring margin (+14.4) — leads ACC in each category.
- Freshman AJ Griffin, who scored 10 of Duke’s 13 points in the final 3:39 at Virginia, is averaging 16.2 points and shooting 37-of-70 (.529) from the field and 18-of-32 (.563) from three-point range over Duke’s six-game road winning streak.
- Griffin is the team’s second-leading scorer on the road this season (14.1) and shooting a team-best 23-of-41 (.561) from three on the road.
- Sophomore Mark Williams is the nation’s only player shooting better than .700 from the field and .700 at the free throw line (min. 100 FG attempts). His 68 dunks are the fourth most in a season at Duke.
- A finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, Williams leads the ACC and ranks 10th nationally in blocked shots (2.93).
DUKE VS. SYRACUSE
Saturday’s game is just the 19th all-time meeting between Duke and Syracuse, with the Blue Devils leading 12-6 … Duke has won five straight in the series and has claimed eight of the 12 regular-season meetings since Syracuse joined the ACC … Four different Blue Devils each scored 15 points, including freshman AJ Griffin who was 5-of-9 from three-point range — in Duke’s 79-59 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 22 … The Blue Devils had 25 assists in the earlier meeting and limited the Orange to just 5-of-29 from three-point range … In two career games vs. Syracuse, Mark Williams is 15-of-18 (.833) from the field and averaging 16.5 points and 9.0 rebounds … Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim served as an assistant on Mike Krzyzewski’s Team USA staffs that won Olympic gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016 … The two coaches are first and second, respectively, in all-time D-I men’s basketball wins — Coach K with 1,194 and Boeheim with 997.
SCOUTING THE ORANGE
Syracuse is 15-13 overall, 9-8 in the ACC and has won two of three … The Orange are scoring 77.0 points per game, paced by the ACC’s second leading scorer Buddy Boeheim (19.0 ppg), who has hit a team-leading 75 three-pointers … Buddy’s brother Jimmy is the team’s second leading scorer at 13.9 points, while Joseph Girard III has made 74 three-pointers and shooting .418 from downtown … Girard leads the ACC in three-point accuracy (.418) and in free throw shooting (.897), is fourth in the ACC in assists (4.3) and sixth in steals (1.71).
LAST MEETING: DUKE 79, SYRACUSE 59 (1/22/22)
No. 6 Duke hit 14 three-pointers – including five from freshman AJ Griffin – as the Blue Devils beat Syracuse, 79-59, Jan. 22 at Cameron Indoor Stadium … Griffin was one of four players for Duke with 15 points, joining classmate Paolo Banchero, junior Wendell Moore Jr. and sophomore Mark Williams. Banchero added 13 rebounds … Jesse Edwards led Syracuse with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Jimmy Boeheim also had 12 points. Duke held Buddy Boeheim, who came into the contest averaging 19.2 points per game, to seven on 2-of-15 shooting … A 24-11 run from the Blue Devils to start the second half extended their lead to as many as 27.
ON THIS DATE
Duke is 14-12 all-time when playing on Feb. 26 … Each of Duke’s last three games played on Feb. 26 were road games at Virginia Tech in 2011, 2018 and 2019 … In 1986, Duke played as the No. 1 team in the AP poll for the first time under Coach K and beat Clemson, 77-69. That win also set the program record for most wins in a season (28).
STRIKING A BALANCE
Duke enters the Syracuse game with five players averaging double figures in points and four averaging at least four rebounds … Six different Blue Devils have led the team in scoring over the last seven games — most recently Jeremy Roach’s season-high 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-3 from three-point range at Virginia on Wednesday … In the Jan. 22 win over Syracuse, four different Blue Devils shared the scoring lead, each with 15 points … Eight different players have at least one double-figure scoring game this season, with seven of them doing it six or more times.
DUKE’S ROAD SUCCESS
Duke’s six-game road winning streak is the longest active by a power conference team and the fifth-longest active overall … The Blue Devils are 7-2 on the road this season — 7-1 in on the road in the ACC with a scoring margin of +10.3, which is on pace to be Duke’s largest on the road in the ACC since 2002 (+12.7) … Duke has trailed for a combined 20:21 on the road in the ACC this season, including never trailing at North Carolina, Louisville and Clemson and for just 1:45 at Notre Dame (when it was 2-0) … Duke has allowed 70+ just once on the road in regulation — Ohio State (71). The game at FSU was tied at 67 heading to overtime … On the road, Duke is allowing opponents to shoot just .398 from the field and .295 from three-point range.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
Since January 1, Duke opponents are shooting just .289 from three-point range — the second best percentage defense by a power conference team and 19th best overall in that span … For the year, Duke is 29th nationally in three-point defense (.301) — was 119th nationally (.314) on December 31 … Duke leads the ACC in both field goal defense (.407) and three-point defense (.301) … Duke has held 11 of its last 15 opponents — and 17 for the season — to .300 or worse from behind the arc (14-3 in those games) … Duke has held 20 of its 28 opponents this season — including 10 of the last 11 — to 70 points or less … Junior Wendell Moore Jr., is one of the nation’s premier perimeter defenders, regularly drawing the opponent’s best offensive match up. This season, opponents are shooting just .320 from the field and .255 from three-point range with Moore as the primary defender … Sophomore Mark Williams, who leads the league and is 10th nationally in blocked shots (2.93), is one of the best rim protectors with his 7-foot-7 wingspan … Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Virginia and Boston College each made their fewest number of threes of the season against the Blue Devils … The three-point percentages by Gardner-Webb, Lafayette, Syracuse, VT, Wake and ND were each their lowest this year … In Duke’s defensive gem at Notre Dame, the Irish were limited to a season-low 43 points, and it marked the fewest points Duke allowed in an ACC game since a 68-40 win over Clemson on Jan. 8, 2013. It was the fewest points Duke allowed in an ACC road game since a 56-41 win at Virginia on Feb. 16, 2011.
WILLIAMS: THE NATION’S ONLY 70/70 PLAYER
Sophomore Mark Williams is the only player in the country shooting better than .700 from the field and better than .700 from the free throw line this season (min. 100 field goal attempts) … The 7-foot-1 center that possesses a 7-foot-7 wingspan is also one of the nation’s best rim protectors, averaging 2.93 blocks per game to lead the ACC and rank 10th nationally … His 23 multi-block games this season are tied for the lead by power conference players … The .719 field goal percentage this season would lead the nation, but Williams falls just short of the minimum five field goals per game to qualify (4.6) … Williams is also on pace for one of the best single-season field goal shooting efforts in Duke history, currently ranking second on the list behind only Christian Laettner’s .723 in 1989 … Williams, whose tip-in dunk was the game-winner against Wake Forest with 0.4 seconds, is averaging 13.6 points and shooting 39- of-37 (.784) from the field over the last five games … Williams’ KenPom offensive rating of 137.6 is the best of any player nationally (min. 15% of possessions used) … His 68 dunks are fourth most in a season at Duke.
GRIFFIN GIVES DUKE A ROAD LIFT
Freshman AJ Griffin is averaging 16.2 points and shooting 37-of-70 (.529) from the field and 18-of-32 (.563) from three-point range over Duke’s six-game road winning streak … For the season, Griffin is the team’s second-leading scorer in road games with 14.1 points on 23-of-41 (.561) from three-point range … Griffin had one of the greatest debuts in the history of the Duke- North Carolina rivalry, netting a career-high 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting and 3-of-6 from behind the arc in the 87-67 win on Feb. 5 … After UNC trimmed a 23-point deficit down to 11, Griffin opened the second half by scoring 10 straight points to put Duke back in control … The freshman is coming off a pivotal final 3:38 at Virginia where he erupted for 10 of Duke’s final 13 points in Wednesday’s 65-61 victory. Griffin was 3-of-3 from the field, hit both three-pointers and hit a pair of free throws with 1.8 remaining for a 65-61 lead … A knee injury in the preseason set Griffin back over the first half of the season. He played just 11 minutes in the Kentucky win, six minutes in the Gonzaga win and two minutes at Ohio State.
DUKE AWAY FROM CAMERON
In the Coach K era, Duke is 270-154 (.635) in true road games and 279-77 (.784) in neutral site games, for a combined mark of 549- 231 (.706) in all games outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium … In ACC regular-season play, Duke is 199-128 (.609) away from home under Coach K … Coach K’s 199 ACC road wins are a conference record … Coach K has also won 16 road games against AP top five teams, the most in the history of the AP poll.