The Syracuse Orange and the Duke Blue Devils didn't come into their big rematch on Feb. 22 on a roll. Since the Orange and Blue Devils each lost their previous games earlier in the week, they weren't quite at their best coming in -- especially with the Orange no longer perfect. However, all of that was forgotten with the second furious finish of the new Duke-Syracuse rivalry -- and with Jim Boeheim's actual fury at the end of a 66-60 loss.
Boeheim exploded when the Orange had a tying basket with 10 seconds left waved off, on a charge call against C.J. Fair. Instead of the Blue Devils' Rodney Hood getting called for a block, which would have given the Orange a chance to take the lead, or just no call at all, Duke got to keep a 62-60 lead.
Yet it was Boeheim who really finished Syracuse off, as his anger at the referees drew two technical fouls and an ejection against the legendary coach. Thanks to those actions, Duke not only got the ball back, it got to shoot four free throws and put the game officially out of reach. Syracuse could have gotten lucky and still had a chance without Boeheim's explosion, but it will never know now.
A no call benefited the Orange in their last showdown with the Blue Devils on Feb. 1, when Hood himself missed a dunk in the last seconds of overtime and wasn't ruled to be fouled. With that loss and non-call now avenged, the Blue Devils avoided a second loss this week alone -- unlike the formerly perfect Orange.
Losing to the arch-rival North Carolina Tar Heels and to new rival Syracuse in a span of two days would have been crushing for Duke. Syracuse had it worse, however, losing to the formerly 6-19 Boston College Eagles before this bitter loss and meltdown. As such, the luck the Orange had to start 25-0 seems to have finally yielded a price.
If late breaks hadn't gone the Orange's way the week before, they might be on a four-game losing streak right now. As it is, Syracuse now isn't even the best team in the ACC -- although neither is Duke. With the Virginia Cavaliers topping the ACC, the Orange and Blue Devils may have to have a tiebreaking rematch in the ACC tournament semifinals instead of the finals.