Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The Carrier Dome's most anticipated game of the season more than lived up to its advance billing. It was certainly one C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant and the Syracuse Orange won't easily forget.
With Fair pouring in a career-high 28 points and Grant tallying a personal- best 24, the second-ranked Orange won a school-record 21st straight game to begin a season by outlasting No. 17 Duke in overtime, 91-89, in a classic played in front of the largest on-campus crowd in NCAA basketball history.
Fair went 12-of-20 from the field and Grant hit 7-of-11 shots while adding 10 rebounds as Syracuse (21-0, 8-0 ACC) kept its unblemished record intact despite a determined effort from a Duke squad that had its two main post players, Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson, foul out in the final two minutes of regulation.
The Blue Devils survived the ejections by knocking down 15-of-36 attempts from 3-point range, none bigger than Rasheed Sulaimon's 22-footer at the buzzer that forced extra time.
"I can't say enough about the quality of this game. It was the highest quality possible," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "If you paid $3400 on the market for a courtside seat it was money well spent. You should be happy that you did. And if you sold your tickets to this game you should be ashamed, because you made some money and missed an epic."
Sulaimon finished 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in a 16-point effort, while Parker had 15 points and nine rebounds prior to exiting. Jefferson totaled 14 points and seven boards for Duke (17-5, 6-3), which entered the marquee matchup having won five straight.
The game had all the elements of a must-see affair -- a clash between the two all-time winningest coaches in Division I in Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Boeheim, the possible No, 1 overall pick in the next NBA Draft (Parker), and a thrilling conclusion that had the Carrier Dome crowd of 35,446 standing out of their seats.
Duke's Andre Dawkins drained his fourth 3-pointer of the night to snap an 84-84 tie with 1:21 remaining in overtime, but missed from long range after two Tyler Ennis free throws cut the Blue Devils' lead to one.
The Orange then worked the ball inside to Grant, who was hacked in the lane by Marshall Plumlee and sank both bonus attempts for an 88-87 edge with 39.1 seconds left.
Rakeem Christmas got a piece of Rodney Hood's failed dunk try on the ensuing possession, with Grant collecting the rebound and the Blue Devils fouling Ennis with 12.2 seconds showing. The freshman made both shots to extend the differential to three points, and Syracuse fouled Sulaimon on the other end before he could get a potential game-tying shot off.
Sulaimon converted both free throws and Fair went 1-of-2 from the line to make it a 91-89 game with time winding down, and the Orange hung on when Quinn Cook misfired on a jumper just prior to the clock expiring.
The Blue Devils trailed 66-59 with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation, but overcame the deficit on the strength of their markmanship from the perimeter.
Tyler Thornton buried a trio of 3-pointers within a stretch of under two minutes to pull Duke within 70-68, and Parker converted a layup on the Blue Devils' next trip to tie the contest with 3:57 to go.
Sulaimon was fouled while sinking a trey with 47.6 seconds left to knot the score again at 75-75, but Duke fell back behind when Christmas made 1-of-2 from the stripe and Dawkins turned the ball over with 4.6 seconds showing, leading to two Ennis free throws that lengthened the margin to three points.
Sulaimon then dribbled across halfcourt and got off a contested long shot that swished through to send the contest into OT.
"We were scrambling a lot because of our foul trouble, and our kids scrambled well," Krzyzewski said. "They scrambled well enough to put us in a position to win."
Syracuse shot better than 54 percent from the field in the first half and put together the largest run of the period, an 8-0 spurt that began with a Trevor Cooney trey and culminated in Fair's 3-point play off a Duke turnover that staked the Orange to a 26-20 edge with under 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the frame.
The Blue Devils closed the gap by virtue of their outside shooting, with Hood knocking down two triples and Dawkins one during a three-minute stretch that cut the lead to 32-31.
Fair then buried a jumper on the other end, igniting a brief 6-2 flurry that helped send Syracuse into the break up by a 38-35 score.
"C.J. Fair was phenomenal tonight," said Boeheim. "He broke out of that good, solid player into a great player. He was a great player tonight."
Parker's layup and free throw with 11:05 left in the second half put Duke on top by a 56-54 count, but he drew his fourth foul on the ensuing possession and Dawkins did the same a short while later.
With the two confined to the bench, the Orange embarked on a 12-3 tear to claim a 66-59 advantage with 6:37 left to play. Fair accounted for eight points during the burst.