• 66°

Boeheim returns for Syracuse but Duke too much

Blue Devils get it done without Zion

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, right, embraces Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim at the end of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Duke won 75-65. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi)

By John Kekis

AP Sports Writer

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — When it was over and the last of the deafening cheers of the record Carrier Dome crowd had stopped, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim forgot about basketball for a poignant moment.

Three nights earlier, the 74-year-old Hall of Fame coach had been involved in an accident that took the life of 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez, and that was foremost on his mind. Talking about a tough 75-65 loss to top-ranked Duke on Saturday night would have to wait.

“First and foremost to the Jimenez family I want them to know how truly devastated I am for my involvement and the loss of a loved one,” Boeheim read from a prepared statement. “The grief and pain his family is feeling at this time is, simply put, unimaginable. Juli, my family, and I are heartbroken. I love this community, and to see so many of my community members rally around the Jimenez family is a reminder of how special a community central New York is.”

For Boeheim, who struck and killed Jimenez on a darkened highway that leads out of town, the game was his first public appearance since the accident. Boeheim, in his 43rd season as head coach at his alma mater, had addressed the team Thursday but did not take part in practice. Although he returned for practice Friday, he had not appeared in public until he made his way into the Carrier Dome to a big ovation from the crowd of 35,642.

Head down, Boeheim made his way to center court and acknowledged the crowd with a brief wave before giving Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski a heartfelt hug.

“That was such an incredible environment,” Krzyzewski said. “The support the fans gave the team and the support they gave Jim was great and such an emotional time.”

The accident happened after the Orange’s 20-point victory over No. 18 Louisville. Police say Jimenez was a passenger in a car that apparently skidded out of control on a patch of ice and hit a guardrail. Police say Jimenez was trying to get to safety when he was struck by Boeheim’s SUV. Boeheim had swerved to avoid the disabled car, which was resting perpendicular across two lanes.

Jimenez was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Another man in the car suffered minor injuries. A moment of silence was observed before the game for Jimenez and his family.

Police say Boeheim has cooperated and sobriety tests administered to Boeheim and the unidentified driver of the other vehicle were negative for any signs of impairment. Police Chief Kenton T. Buckner said Thursday night there was “no reason to believe that there are criminal charges that will be coming for anyone.”

Once the game started, it seemed like just another tilt featuring the two winningest coaches in NCAA Division I history, except for the massive crowd that made the dome’s walls shake every time the Orange scored. The Blue Devils (24-3, 12-2) improved to 7-0 on the road in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In the first game between the teams, the Orange (18-9, 9-5) pulled off the upset, 95-91 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, as Tyus Battle scored a season-high 32 points and Syracuse used its 2-3 zone defense to rattle Duke in overtime.

Swingman Cameron Reddish was out with an illness and point guard Tre Jones suffered a shoulder injury roughly 5 1/2 minutes in to put Duke down two starters in that one. It was a completely different team, just like it was on Saturday without injured freshman star Zion Williamson, who had a season-high 35 points in that first game.

Williamson watched from the bench as freshman forward RJ Barrett, who had a triple-double and double-double in Duke’s previous two games, scored 30 points to help fill the void and Alex O’Connell had a career-high 20 in his first start of the season.

Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 16 points on 4-of-17 shooting, Elijah Hughes had 12, and Marek Dolezaj and Frank Howard had 10 apiece as the Orange hit only 1 of 11 3-pointers in the decisive second half.

For freshman Orange guard Buddy Boeheim, the coach’s youngest son, the whole night was a moment that forever will be etched in his mind.”When he first came out, it was just a great moment for the community, a great moment for him,” Buddy said. “It was just great having him there. You obviously want to win, but it’s more than basketball sometimes.”

ATTENDANCE RECORD

The game set a record for an on-campus basketball game, eclipsing the mark of 34,446, twice against Duke.

SHOW OF SUPPORT

Several former Orange stars attended the game, including Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman, John Wallace, Todd Burgan and Billy Owens. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, wearing a No. 4 Syracuse jersey, also attended and sat just to the right of the Syracuse bench.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: Williamson is recovering from a sprained knee. Duke was crushed at home, 88-72, on Wednesday night by No. 8 North Carolina after Williamson was hurt on the game’s first possession.

Syracuse: Just being with the players and coaching them will help Boeheim cope with the tragic accident as the season winds down.

UP NEXT

Duke: At No. 20 Virginia Tech on Tuesday night.

Syracuse: At No. 8 North Carolina on Tuesday night.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Comments

Elections

Local Democrats call to ‘turn the state blue’ during virtual office reopening

Education

Catawba gets high marks in U.S. News and World rankings for fifth year

Business

China Grove soap store sets sights on expansion into Kannapolis

News

Charlotte, UNC game canceled after 49ers place players in quarantine

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 18

Coronavirus

County sees ninth COVID-19 death this week, more than 30 cases reported

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces schools can move K-5 to plan A; school board vote needed locally

Local

Wet weather brings crashes, traffic to standstill on interstate

Crime

Salisbury man victim of Facebook scam, duped out of $2,000

Crime

Two charged after fight outside Salisbury home

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools ships out thousands of old devices for refurbishing

Education

Caught in the infodemic: NC school policies frustrated by scientific challenges

East Spencer

East Spencer to hold community day, provide free food, supplies

Education

Shoutouts

Landis

Landis officials provide plan for COVID-19 funds, discuss town’s financial position

Education

Blattner brought technology into schools before it was cool

Education

State has slight decline in SAT scores

Local

New environmental specialists begin work on backlog soil evaluations

Local

Friends, colleagues say Seay left his mark on Rowan judicial system

Elections

Rep. Howard says ‘still work to be done’ as she seeks 17th term in House

Nation/World

Trump disputes health officials, sees mass vaccinations soon

Nation/World

‘Nothing left in the bucket’: Wildfire resources run thin

Nation/World

At least 1 dead, hundreds rescued after Hurricane Sally

Crime

Blotter: Sheriff’s Office seeking information in shootout