Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Jahlil Okafor made another statement in his quest for ACC and National Player of the Year with a dominant second-half performance in No. 4 Duke's comeback win at Syracuse.
Okafor scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half and gathered 13 rebounds as the Blue Devils rallied past the Orange 80-72 at Carrier Dome.
"Throughout the whole second half, my teammates kept finding me for easy buckets," said Okafor. "They were giving me all the confidence in the world."
Quinn Cook had 17 points, Justise Winslow scored 12 and Tyus Jones filled the stat sheet with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists in Duke's fifth straight win.
Duke (22-3, 9-3 ACC) fell behind early in large part due to Michael Gbinije's hot shooting. The former Blue Devil and current Syracuse swingman dropped 19 of his career-high 27 points in the first half.
Tyler Roberson added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Orange (16-9, 7-5).
"I thought we played well, we just didn't do a couple things on defense that we needed to do but other than that we gave it everything we had," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
"(Tyler) had a tremendous game being able to get there and get in the lane and finish around the basket."
Winslow's layup tied the score at 18 just past the midway point of the first half. Gbinije then caught fire, sinking three 3-pointers in less than two minutes for a personal 9-0 run.
Gbinije's fifth triple of the half extended the lead to 34-23 before the final media timeout of the first half, but Duke scored 13 points in the final 3:08 of the half and pulled within three, 39-36, at the break.
Cook, Matt Jones and Winslow all hit triples during Duke's 13-5 run to close out the half. Jones' trey at 1:30 had the Blue Devils within a point, and Gbinije capped his impressive half with a jumper at the other end.
The Blue Devils carried that momentum into the second half. A pair of layups and two dunks from Okafor highlighted a 13-2 run to open the half. Duke made six straight field goals during the flurry that flipped the script from the first half and made it 49-43.
Winslow's acrobatic tip-in with 6 1/2 minutes left put Duke up by eight. Syracuse then had a number of chances to get back in the game during a Duke scoring drought, but the Orange only mustered four points over the next four-plus minutes. During that stretch, Rakeem Christmas missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and two jumpers, Trevor Cooney air-balled an open 3 and Roberson missed a pair of free throws.
Christmas and Cooney netted 11 points apiece, while Christmas also blocked five shots and Cooney had five steals ... Duke improved to 5-2 in ACC road games ... The two teams will meet again in Chapel Hill on Feb. 28.