A quick take on Syracuse’s tough 74-69 loss to Virginia Saturday night in the Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Playing its first ACC home game of the season and third contest in less than a week, Syracuse (7-6, 1-1) dropped its third straight game to Virginia, and its fourth straight to the Cavaliers in the Dome dating back to 2018. UVA stormed out to a 12 point first half lead before Syracuse tied the game 33-33 at halftime. The Orange twice had second half leads of two points, before Virginia (8-5, 2-1) steadied itself and repeatedly hit key second half baskets (63% shooting in the half) to hold off any final ‘Cuse comeback bid. Syracuse shot just 37% from the field overall and committed 11 crucial turnovers.
ANALYSIS: Always noted for its stellar defensive tempo, Virginia giving up just 56.2 ppg, stymied the Orange offense other than the Boeheim brothers. Buddy (27) and Jimmy (18) Boeheim scored 45 of the Orange’s 69 points and no other SU player was in double figures. It took Buddy Boeheim to get going for Syracuse to get going in the first half. Buddy did not score his first basket until the 7:07 mark of the first half, with the Orange down 12, that powered a 20-8 run to tie the game at the half. The Cavaliers constantly found openings down low in the Orange zone, getting 40 points in the paint. UVA’s big man Jayden Gardner, despite foul trouble throughout, did much of the damage inside finishing with 15 points and four assists.
HERO: Virginia senior guard Kihei Clark was a steady presence all evening, and seemed to come up with a key basket every time UVA needed one in the second half as the Orange furiously tried to come back. Clark finished with 17 points hitting three treys, and dished out eight assists. Fellow guard Armaan Franklin had 17 points also with three 3-point baskets.
ZERO: It was a tough night for Joe Girard making just one 3-point shot with three assists in his 30 minutes. Again, the ‘Cuse left points on the foul line going 15-for-23 from the stripe, and too often SU relied on long range shots. Half of Syracuse’s 60 shots were from beyond the arc, and the Orange made just 10 of their 30 three-point attempts. Syracuse’s season will go as far as its defense takes it. Virginia scored just 50 and 57 points in its first two ACC games, before “erupting” for 74 against the ‘Cuse zone.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse begins a two-game ACC road swing starting at Miami this coming Wednesday night, January 5. Last season the Orange blitzed the Hurricanes 83-57 in the Dome, following a 69-65 loss at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables in 2020. Miami (11-3, 3-0) beat Wake Forest 92-84 at home Saturday night, and they’ve also defeated Clemson and North Carolina State so far in league play. Game Time: 8:00 p.m. ET. TV: ACC Network.