Forward Mark Williams leads Duke's to 97-72 victory over Syracuse
February 27, 2022
Mike Krzyzewski's final appearance at Carrier Dome wasn't going to be remembered as warmly as the crowd that filled it to witness Duke's blowout 97-72 victory over the host Syracuse Orange. The Duke Blue Devils were dominant from the start, and they used an early offensive explosion to take control of the game. Mark Williams had a career-high 28 points and added 12 rebounds to help Duke get its glorious victory on Wednesday night. The Blue Devils' offense was clicking during the first half, and Krzyzewski noted that his team played well in the second half. "I thought our offense was like amazing in the first 17 minutes. We played very well in the second half," Coach K said. "They scored the last 11 points of the first half, and anything can happen then."
In addition to Williams, forward Paolo Banchero scored 21 points and recorded nine assists, while AJ Griffin chipped in 20 points for the Blue Devils. Williams noted that the team was able to execute on both ends of the court, and they were able to communicate well on both ends of the court. "Obviously, we performed very well on the offensive end," the sophomore center said. "I think we were really locked in on the defensive end, too. We were moving the ball. We were getting really good shots, and defensively we just communicated well, moving, playing great defense." In total, Duke shot over 50% from the floor and made 15 of 32 three-point attempts. Banchero drained four three-pointers, Griffin nailed six out of 17 attempts, and Williams sank 11 out of 14 attempts. Krzyzewski was pleased with his team's performance, especially after seeing how Williams was able to finish and collect offensive rebounds. "Paolo, it was one of his best games," the retiring coach said. "And Mark was fantastic. His ability to catch and finish and also get eight offensive rebounds was huge. I'm obviously very pleased." In the team's victory at Virginia on Wednesday, Banchero had his lowest point total. But, that did not stop him from performing well on the road against the Orange. Following the game, the 19 years old forward said that he had been focusing on overthinking and overanalyzing during the last couple of weeks. He attributed his improved performance to enjoying the game instead of worrying about the details. "Just having fun, really," said the 6-foot-10 forward. "I felt like the past few weeks I had been putting some unnecessary pressure on myself. Just overthinking, especially on offense. That overthinking and overanalyzing really affected my game. So it was just amazing. When I play free and play fun, I always play better."
Syracuse Orange without top big man
Without injured center Jesse Edwards, Duke could take advantage of the opportunity to win again against Orange during their previous match-up three weeks ago. Syracuse's coach Jim Boeheim noted that losing Edwards has been a big blow to the team. He said that his team could not handle Duke. "Jesse is a difference-maker for this team. It's been too hard to overcome," Boeheim said. "We can't handle Duke. It's pretty simple." The Syracuse Orange had been in the Quadrant 1 games, losing all of them. Through the conference tournament, the team's only hope for making the NCAA Tournament is securing an automatic bid.