Duke ends Syracuse’s Cinderella run 69-65

The Duke Blue Devils ended the Cinderella run for 11th-seeded Syracuse defeating the Orange 69-65 in a Friday Sweet 16 matchup.

Syracuse started the game on fire, hitting their first 12 shots to take a 17-14 lead midway through the first half. But, Duke lead at half 34-27 by scoring 10 of their final 16 points from the free throw line.

The Orange scored 6 straight to start the second half and pulled to within 34-33, but the Blue Devils went on a 12-4 run to take a 50-41 lead, their largest of the game.

Syracuse continued to battle back, but Duke hit its free throws at the end to keep the Orange at bay.

Marvin Bagley III scored 22 points for Duke, that had four players in double digits. The Orange were led by Tyus Battle with 19 points.

This was the second time the two teams had met in the Sweet 16, with Duke winning 80-67 in 1998. Duke also won a matchup in the 1966 Elite Eight.

Syracuse (23-14), which the selection committee designated as the final at-large team to make the tournament, won their First Four game against Arizona State on Wednesday before upsetting No. 6 TCU on Friday and No. 3 Michigan State on Sunday.

The Sweet 16 berth was the 23rd in program history for the Orange, who tried to make their first Elite Eight since a 2016 run that saw them reach the Final Four.

Syracuse won its only national championship in 2003 and lost in the title game in 1996 and 1987.

Duke (29-7) finished second in the ACC standings behind Virginia and fell to North Carolina in the ACC tournament semifinals. The Blue Devils haven’t been tested much so far in the NCAA Tournament, beating No. 15 Iona 89-67 and No. 7 Rhode Island 87-62 to reach coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 24th Sweet 16.

The win over Syracuse gives Krzyzewski his 15th spot in the Elite Eight and the 21st overall in school history.

Krzyzewski is trying to guide Duke to its sixth national title and first since 2015. The school has played in 16 Final Fours in program history, finishing as runners-up six times.

Duke will next take on No. 1 Kansas Sunday with the winner heading to the Final Four.