In a game pushed back a day due to the blizzard hitting the east coast, Syracuse simply could not find enough offense to knock off #13 Virginia, falling on the road, 73-65. While Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson filled up the scorebook for the Orange (13-8, 3-5 ACC), their teammates shot a collective 6-of-26 (23.1 percent) from the field.
While SU had such difficulty on offense, the Cavaliers (15-4, 4-3) had no such issues, shooting nearly 57 percent on the night. Virginia had 18 assists on 25 field goals and did a lot of damage on the inside, outscoring Syracuse in the paint, 30-12.
Trevor Cooney opened up the game’s scoring for the Orange by getting a friendly bounce on a stepback jumper. Virginia quickly responded with five points to take the lead, but Michael Gbinije drove across the lane for a lefty lay-in and foul. Gbinije made the free throw after the first media timeout to knot the game at 5-5.
Twice more, the Cavaliers stepped out to a modest lead, but SU replied. The first time, the Orange erased a four-point deficit, then later wiped out a five-point gap with seven straight points. DaJuan Coleman started the run with a pair of free throws, then Malachi Richardson knocked down a left wing three to knot the score. Tyler Lydon was then fouled on a three-pointer and made the first and last foul shots for a 16-14 lead shortly after the midpoint of the opening half.
Six straight points allowed Virginia to grab the lead once more, but Syracuse responded by getting hot from deep. Cooney first hit a long three to pull the Orange to within one, then Richardson drilled one from the left wing to do the same moments later. Richardson added another trey on the next trip, this one from the right wing, to tie the game at 25 a side with just over five minutes on the clock.
The Cavaliers then ran up eight straight points to regain control. That margin would be the same at halftime, as Virginia held a 37-29 lead at the break.
Gbinije did everything within his power to keep SU in the game in the opening minutes of the second half, outscoring Virginia 11-8 to draw the Orange within five points. Three triples and a pair of foul shots were Gbinije’s output in that span, then Richardson made a jumper to cap seven straight Syracuse points to get within 45-42 with 11:25 left in the game.
On the heels of a Cavalier score, Richardson banged home a three, then Tyler Roberson followed a Cooney miss to make to make it a 12-2 Orange run and tie the game once more, this time at 47 with just over eight minutes left.
Once more, Virginia posted a run to regain control of the scoreboard. This time, an 8-1 run put the hosts in front, 55-48. A Richardson three ended the burst, then shortly after, a Gbinije steal was turned into a transition three by Cooney to draw SU within 57-54 with under four minutes to go.
After each team added another three, the Cavs seemingly put the game away for good by scoring eight of the game’s next ten points to take a 68-59 lead with 39 seconds to play. Syracuse responded with a pair of quick threes. First, Gbinije struck from behind the arc to make it a six-point game, then after a Virginia turnover on the inbounds pass, Richardson added one of his own to make it 68-65 with 26 seconds left.
The Cavaliers, however, made five of six foul shots in the remaining time while the Orange offense finally gave out, missing all five of their shots before the final horn.
Michael Gbinije hit 5-of-7 three-pointers in the second half, as he scored 19 of his game-high 24 points after the break. Gbinije also collected four steals on the defensive end. Malachi Richardson did his teammate one better, connecting on a half dozen threes en route to 23 points on the night.
Malcolm Brogdon paced the Cavaliers with 21 points. Anthony Gill and London Perrantes each added 16 points for the hosts.
The Orange return home to the Carrier Dome, where they will host Notre Dame on Thursday. The Fighting Irish (14-5, 5-2) have reeled off four straight wins, including a 76-49 rout of Boston College on Saturday.
Five different players average double figures for Notre Dame, led by point guard Demetrius Jackson, who posts 16.6 points and 5.0 assists per game. However, Jackson’s status for Thursday is up in the air due to a hamstring injury suffered against Boston College. Second on the team in scoring, Zach Auguste averages a double-double for the Irish of 13.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per outing.
Thursday night’s action is set to start at 7:00pm Eastern on ESPN2. The game can also be seen online at espn3.com and through the WatchESPN app.