Published: Sun, February 25, 2018
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Bagley returns, leads No. 5 Duke past Syracuse 60-44

Bagley returns, leads No. 5 Duke past Syracuse 60-44

Despite Bagley's importance to the team, the 23-5 Blue Devils went a flawless 4-0 during his absence with victories over Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Louisville.

Now that Bagley is back, sophomore forward Javin DeLaurier will likely transition back to a bench role.

However, Bagley wasted no time finding his rhythm as Allen and Carter set him up for easy dunks. Freshman Gary Trent is one of the ACC's best at 45 percent, while Allen knocks down 38.5 percent.

The key for the Orange is attacking the rim (mentality) and shooting efficiently from downtown.

Running a zone defense - a development that in the past might have been anathema to man-to-man disciple Mike Krzyzewski - the Blue Devils (24-5, 12-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) forced 17 turnovers and the Orange matched their season-low scoring total, set February 3 in a loss to No. 1 Virginia. The Orange were in the bonus in the second half with 9:49 remaining. The last three teams Duke had played hasn't been able to score much on Duke's zone. More information on whether Bagley will jump back into the starting lineup will be available closer to tipoff.

The teams combined for 24 consecutive missed 3-pointers before Oshae Brissett's long ball to pull the Orange within 29-21.

Syracuse enters the contest fresh off a 78-74 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome, before a crowd of 27,165 - the highest attendance for an on-campus college basketball game this season.

Duke has also continued to move more heavily towards a 2-3 Zone defense which has improved during the year. The Orange's scoring struggles of their own prevented them from earning a resume-building victory and will keep them as the very definition of a bubble team.

Allen emerged as a go-to scorer in Bagley's absence.

Tyus Battle, who ranks third in the league with an average of 20.1 points per game, scored 12 while Frank Howard added 11 and Paschal Chukwu had 12 rebounds.

However, the 6-foot-5 senior again took a back seat in Bagley's return. He scored all six of his points in the first half, though he ended up with 12 rebounds. He finished with just 6 points, making only 3 of 9 shots and missing all 6 of his 3-point attempts.

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