Jim Boeheim returns to Syracuse bench in loss to Duke
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — No matter the outcome, Jim Boeheim needed this.
Three days after the Hall of Fame coach of the Syracuse Orange struck and killed a pedestrian on a darkened highway that leads out of town, he returned to the bench Saturday night. Boeheim’s first public appearance since the Wednesday night accident that killed 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez came in a 75-65 loss to top-ranked Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski, a close friend.
The 74-year-old Boeheim, in his 43rd season as coach at his alma mater, 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 a record crowd. Head down, Boeheim made his way to center court and acknowledged the crowd with a brief wave before giving Krzyzewski a heartfelt hug.
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. According to police, 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. No tickets have been issued, and the investigation is continuing. Police Chief Kenton T. Buckner said Thursday night at a news conference 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 record crowd that made the dome’s walls shake every time the Orange scored. The top-ranked Blue Devils (24-3, 12-2 ACC) improved to 7-0 on the road in the conference.
In the first game between the teams, the Orange (18-8, 9-4) 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.
Freshman forward RJ Barrett, who had a triple-double and double-double in Duke’s previous two games, scored 30 points to lead Duke, and Alex O’Connell had 20.
Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 16 points on 4-for-17 shooting, Elijah Hughes had 12, and Marek Dolezaj and Frank Howard had 10 apiece.