The Duke basketball team advanced to the Elite Eight on Friday night with a 69-65 victory over Syracuse in Omaha.
It wasn’t particularly enjoyable in terms of excitement and flow, but the Blue Devils did enough to earn the hard-fought victory and will now face Kansas on Sunday with a Final Four spot on the line.
Duke was led by Marvin Bagley, who finished with a game-high 22 points and 7 rebounds. The team also received a strong performance by Wendell Carter with 14 points and 12 rebounds. And in the final minutes, Gary Trent made a couple clutch plays to hold off the Orange, including a tough shot in the lane and two big free throws en-route to 14 points.
Duke had challenges with Syracuse’s length and frustrating zone defense, which forced the Blue Devils into a 5-of-26 shooting night from 3-point range, but the Orange also had no answer for Bagley and Carter in the paint.
There were several moments when it looked like Duke would pull away for a comfortable victory, including when it closed the first half with a 7-point lead after making a 10-0 run, but Syracuse wouldn’t relent.
Jim Boeheim’s team stayed within striking distance throughout the night, including only trailing by three in the final seconds with a chance to tie, but Duke made the necessary stops and hit enough clutch free throws to secure the win.
With the victory, Duke’s record now moves to 29-7 for the season.
Sunday’s game against Kansas will be Duke’s 21st appearance in the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
The game against the Jayhawks will be televised on CBS and is expected to tip around 5:05 ET.