SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said the accident he was involved in on Wednesday night that resulted in the death of Jorge Jimenez is "something that will be with me for the rest of my life."
Boeheim took the court Saturday night for the first time since Wednesday's tragic accident, exiting the locker room with 2 minutes, 33 seconds remaining before tipoff against Duke. The record crowd at the Carrier Dome gave him a massive standing ovation. Boeheim briefly acknowledged the crowd and then walked over to Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, a longtime friend, and the two coaches embraced.
A message was read by the arena's public-address announcer in both English and Spanish, recognizing those affected by the tragedy and honoring the life of Jimenez, followed by a moment of silence.
Syracuse led by five at halftime, but Duke turned things around in the second half en route to a 75-65 victory.
"First and foremost, to the Jimenez family, I want them to know how truly devastated I am for my involvement in the loss of their loved one, Jorge Jimenez. 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 fellow community members rally around the Jimenez family is a reminder of how special central New York is," Boeheim said in a postgame statement.
Boeheim met with his team Thursday but did not attend practice. Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack announced Friday afternoon Boeheim would resume his coaching duties at practice Friday and then coach in Saturday's game.
"My decision to coach this game, all I can say is, I felt the responsibility and obligation to my players, the members of my basketball team," he said in his opening remarks following the game. "I recruited these young men to come play at Syracuse University, they needed me to try and do my job tonight, and they understand I did this feeling fully the weight of the tragic accident and its impact on the Jimenez family. This is something that will be with me, for the rest of my life."
Boeheim became emotional when describing the reception he received when he walked out of the locker room onto the floor.
"I've been here all my life," he said. "They've always been supportive. And I think they know how bad I feel, and I just thought they were there to support our team and me. And it's an unimaginable situation. I can't describe the feelings I've had since Wednesday night. I don't think I can make anyone understand who hasn't been there. This is something that's there forever for me. It's one of those things. ... There's a lot of things in there that you have to overcome, but there's nothing, there is nothing like this, when a human life is lost and you're there. I just can't, I can't describe it to you."
Boeheim continued, saying the feeling would never go away.
"Tuesday, it's not going to be any better. It's not going to be any better next week. It's not going to be any better next month. It's not going to be any better next year," he said. "We've reached out to the family. I intend to do that as I can in the future. This isn't about me, and it doesn't matter how I feel. It's how they feel and what has happened to them."
Boeheim and Krzyzewski are very close friends, having coached together on multiple Team USA Olympic teams. Krzyzewski said he was surprised by the hug from Boeheim, but he was glad Boeheim decided to coach Saturday night.
"The support that the fans not only gave the team, but the support they gave Jim, was great," Krzyzewski said. "Such an emotional time because Jim has created a program here and a family. Going through this situation, the whole family goes through it, and I could feel it, it felt so good for him. The outpouring of emotion was so good. I mean, he's my dear friend, and I was able to spend a few minutes with him before the game. He looks strong, and I'm glad he coached. What the hell else is he supposed to do? That's what he does. The honoring of the family, the moment of silence, everything was beautiful in that environment."
The Carrier Dome set an on-campus attendance record for a college basketball game Saturday, with 35,642 in attendance. It surpassed the previous record, also held by Syracuse in a game against Duke, set in 2015.
"The environment, and getting the community together like that was really cool," said freshman guard Buddy Boeheim, Jim's son. "It gave me goose bumps."