Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
R.J. Barrett drops 30 as No. 1 Duke wins at Syracuse without Zion
By ADAM ZAGORIA
Without Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and his Duke teammates will have to step up for however long the projected No. 1 Draft pick is out.
That’s just what Barrett did Saturday night when he went for 30 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds as No. 1 Duke beat Syracuse, 75-65, at the Carrier Dome to avenge a home loss to the Orange last month. With the win, Duke improved to 7-0 on the road this season — the best mark in Division 1.
“[Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told us] just to continue to be leaders,” Barrett told ESPN’s Maria Taylor of the plan sans Williamson. “We all have to do more with him out and that’s what we did today.”
Williamson, the projected No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, sat on the bench in sweats and is listed as day-to-day with a Grade 1 knee sprain suffered Wednesday against North Carolina. His status going forward remains unclear.
The 6-foot-7 Barrett notched his sixth 30-point game of the season and his 20th 20-point game. Teammate Alex O’Connell had a career-high 20 points while making 5-of-8 from deep. Duke improved to 24-3, 12-2 in the ACC where they are tied with Virginia and UNC atop the league.
“It was really about our whole team stepping up and we did that today,” Barrett said. “I was getting in the middle [of the zone] and my teammates were passing me the ball and they were hitting their shots so it made it a lot easier for me.”
Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 16 points and Elijah Hughes added 12.
Duke freshman Joey Baker saw his first action the season and failed to score on his one shot attempt. He also notched three fouls. Baker saw his redshirt burned by Coach K after not playing yet this season.
Before the game, there was a moment of silence for Jorge Jimenez, the 51-year-old man who was struck and killed Wednesday night by Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
Boeheim missed practice Thursday before the school announced he would coach Saturday.
After the game, he addressed the tragic situation for the first time.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.