No. 9 Duke sails past Syracuse, 97-88

Vernon Carey Jr. had 26 points and a season-high 17 rebounds for the 10th double-double of his freshman season and No. 9 Duke beat Syracuse 97-88 on Saturday night.

Cassius Stanley keyed an early second-half surge and the Blue Devils (18-3, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their third straight after a two-game skid.

It was a crucial game for Syracuse (13-9, 6-5), which had a five-game winning streak snapped on the road at Clemson on Tuesday night and needed a signature win to bolster its resume for consideration for the NCAA Tournament.

Stanley had 15 points, Tre Jones had 17, Matthew Hurt had 12 and Alex O’Connell 11 for Duke. Carey, a low-post presence who’s been adept at drawing fouls, has eight 20-10 games.

Duke shot 31 of 54 (57.4%) and was 16 of 26 in the second half while holding Syracuse’s sharpshooters in check. Buddy Boeheim (75) and Elijah Hughes (59) were ranked third nationally among 3-point basket duos with 134. They finished 3 of 16 from long range and 10 of 32 overall.

Marek Dolezaj led Syracuse with 22 points. Hughes finished with 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting and was 1 of 9 from behind the arc.

After a tight first period, Duke started the second half with a 9-1 spurt led by Stanley, who started it with a 3-pointer, fed Carey with a pretty lob, and hit a fallaway jumper for a 49-39 lead at 17:52.

Syracuse got within 71-61 on consecutive 3s by Joe Girard and Boeheim in a span of 16 seconds with just over eight minutes left as the raucous home crowd of 31,458 erupted, but Hurt followed with a 3 for Duke to keep the Blue Devils in front.

Syracuse closed within 79-74 on Bourama Sidibe’s tip-in off a miss by Hughes with 3:11 to go, but Stanley converted a three-point play and Jones hit a pair of free throws to restore the double-digit lead.

Duke outrebounded Syracuse 41-35. The Orange have been outrebounded four times in their five ACC losses