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Duke, Florida State fall to unranked teams

The Duke Blue Devils and Syracuse Orange fell in ACC basketball action on Monday night, showing that on any given night, anybody can win in conference play.

Two ranked teams in the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils and No. 11 Florida State Seminoles took some big losses in ACC play to unranked opponents on Monday night, shaking up an already tough conference landscape even more.

The Syracuse Orange overcame 35 points from freshman sensation Zion Williamson to seal a 95-91 victory in overtime in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Orange got a season-high 32 points from Tyus Battle and 20 points from Elijah Hughes as they got their third win in conference play. If resident Bracketologist Lukas Harkins doesn’t have the Orange in the NCAA Tournament, this win should give them the leverage they need.

Syracuse shot 11-of-25 from 3-point range, getting big performances from Oshae Brissett and Hughes from behind the arc. Brissett and Hughes shot a combined 7-of-14 from 3-point land to propel their squad to a victory.

The emergence of Hughes has been interesting to watch for Syracuse. As Frank Howard has worked his way back into the rotation, Hughes, a transfer from East Carolina, has stepped up in his place, averaging 15.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in his junior season.

It didn’t help Duke was also without Cam Reddish, who was battling flu-like symptoms and didn’t play in the game. With their patented 2-3 zone, the Orange dared anybody not named Barrett or Williamson to shoot the ball and it worked on Monday night.

The Pittsburgh Panthers were the other surprising team to get a victory, defeating the 11th-ranked Seminoles, 75-62, for their second win in ACC play this season. They have made huge strides forward since going winless last year in conference play.

First-year head coach Jeff Capel has the team playing on another level with Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens leading the way. McGowens, a first-year guard, put up 30 points in his third official conference game against the Seminoles on a whopping 18-of-19 shooting from the free throw line. Johnson had 18 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. With Johnson and McGowens in the backcourt, the Panthers look like they’re headed in the right direction.

The Blue Devils fell at home to Syracuse on Monday night to snap a 90-game winning streak and were also dealt a huge blow when news broke after the game that freshman point guard Tre Jones would be out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. Without Jones, the Blue Devils looked containable although R.J. Barrett nearly flirted with a triple-double, producing 23 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists in the defeat. Going forward, Jones’ absence will put a hole in their production on both ends.

Now, just two undefeated teams remain in ACC play in the Virginia Cavaliers and Virginia Tech Hokies. They’ll face each other on Tuesday night at 8 PM on the east coast in Charlottesville in what should be a gritty defensive matchup. Two top teams have fallen already in conference action as another big meeting looms on the horizon. ACC basketball is already off to a roaring start with more to come.

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