A quick take on Syracuse’s 81-58 loss against #8 Virginia on Monday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: Virginia hung an early 12-0 run while the Orange missed eight straight field goal attempts to grab a 14-6 lead just over seven minutes into the game. Syracuse never got within a single possession the rest of the way, getting within four points late in the first half, but the Cavaliers ran off 11 straight points around intermission for a 41-26 lead early in the second half. The margin never touched single digits after that and the Hoos rang up a dozen straight points in the waning minutes to bury SU.
ANALYSIS: The 2-3 zone of the Orange offered little resistance in the first half, giving up seven three-pointers overall and three alley-oop dunks in a span of barely more than two minutes. The second half continued the theme, as the Cavaliers needed just over 90 seconds to hit two more threes to go up 15 and coasted from there, employing excellent ball movement to create easy offense all night long. The SU offense operated in fits and starts, failing to get either open looks from the floor or easy points at the foul line. Syracuse managed to shoot just 37.3 percent from the field in the game and a woeful 20.8 percent (5-of-24) from three-point range.
HERO(ES): Virginia’s Sam Hauser and Jay Huff. Hauser entered the game leading the Cavaliers in scoring at 14.5 points a game, having made 25 threes at a 41.0 percent clip. He promptly shot 5-of-8 from behind the arc in the first half, mostly on wide-open looks. The Marquette transfer added another three to open the second half and finished with 21 points, all via the long ball. Huff owned the inside at both ends, racking up 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting, a dozen rebounds, and a couple blocks, including 15 points and seven boards after the break.
ZERO: The Syracuse defense. The Orange were simply picked apart all night long. While they forced 13 turnovers, including three in under a minute when Jim Boeheim opted to use the full-court press, SU gave up easy looks all night, often twisted and turned inside out by sharp Cavalier passing. Virginia shot 49.2 percent from the field and over 45 percent from deep, connecting on 14 triples on the night, the most Syracuse has allowed in a game this season.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange are off until Sunday, when they start a two-game homestand when North Carolina State (6-5, 2-4 ACC) comes calling (6:00pm Eastern, ACC Network). The Wolfpack are on a four-game slide in conference action and host Wake Forest on Wednesday night prior to the contest against SU. NC State has won the last three contests in the series, including last year’s 79-74 game in Syracuse.