Saturday night, a season-long nemesis reared its head again, as Syracuse simply could not get stops on defense, allowing Virginia to claim a 74-69 win. The Cavaliers (8-5, 1-2) shot 52.6 percent overall from the field, including 23-for-37 (62.2 percent) on two-point field goals. Getting beaten inside the arc was at least a relatively new experience for the Orange (7-6, 1-1 ACC), who had been used to getting carved up from outside.
It was not just a rough night at the defensive end, as SU also struggled on offense for most of the night. They mustered just a 36.7 percent field goal percentage against a Virginia team that does not play the same level on defense as their teams of recent vintage.
The Cavs scored the first seven points of the night, grabbing a lead that stood for most of the evening. The guests kept Syracuse at bay for most of the first half, running off eight straight points for a 25-13 lead after the under-eight media timeout of the opening session.
The Orange climbed back into the game with a rare solid stretch of shooting. SU knocked down 5-of-8 from the floor to complement a 9-for-10 streak from the foul line, 11 of the 20 points coming from Buddy Boeheim. Jesse Edwards finished erasing the gap on a wild shot in the paint that beat the clock just before half, sending the squads to their locker rooms with the score 33 a side.
Jimmy Boeheim twice gave Syracuse a two-point lead, scoring the opening bucket after intermission and later hammering home an emphatic two-handed dunk for the base of a three-point play. The Cavaliers responded both times, including seven straight points after the latter to take a five-point lead.
The Orange knotted up the score, but Virginia proved to be up to the task once more, using a 9-0 burst for a 61-52 lead with 6:29 to play. SU would make it a one possession game on two occasions, but never could get over the hump.
Buddy Boeheim had 27 points to lead the way for SU, hitting five triples in the game. Jimmy Boeheim fell one rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 18 points to go with four steals, but went just 2-of-8 at the foul line. Jesse Edwards added nine points and five blocks while Cole Swider chipped in with eight points.
Armaan Franklin and Kihei Clark tied for team-leading honors for Virginia, each knocking down three triples en route to scoring 17 points. Clark also handed out a game-high eight assists. Jayden Gardner added 15 points while Kadin Shedrick rang up a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double.
- The Orange were beaten mercilessly inside. Virginia only had nine offensive rebounds, but scored 40 points in the paint and were credited with ten layups and four dunks, as alert passing found wide-open players by the bucket time and again.
- The Cavaliers’ ball movement resulted in 22 assists on their 30 field goals, good for a 73.3 percent assist rate, as well as being the most assists piled up by an SU opponent in a month.
- Buddy Boeheim faced an assortment of defensive looks from Virginia. They often doubled him after picks to prevent penetration when his primary defender was smaller in stature, but also used an assortment of personnel, including the 6’8” Kody Stattman, who blocked two of Boeheim’s shots in the paint.
- SU had a season-best 18 offensive rebounds, leading to 16 second-chance points. Jimmy Boeheim, Jesse Edwards, and Cole Swider each had four.
- Both teams did a good job protecting the ball, as Syracuse committed 11 turnovers and the Cavaliers nine. Virginia, however, held a 14-7 advantage in points off those errors.
- Joe Girard III and Cole Swider both struggled shooting the ball. Girard was 1-of-5 and Swider 3-of-12, the duo combining to miss nine out of 12 attempted three-pointers.
- SU is off until Wednesday, when they will travel to Miami for a matchup with the Hurricanes. The ‘Canes (11-3, 3-0) have won seven in a row after defeating Wake Forest on Saturday, 92-84.
- Kameron McGusty and Isaiah Wong provide plenty of punch as half of Miami’s four-guard lineup. McGusty leads the team in scoring (18.3 points/game), rebounding (6.1 boards/game), three-pointers (23), and three-point percentage (39.7 percent). Wong, who led the Hurricanes with 16 points in their matchup against the Orange last season, is averaging 16.5 points per contest on 50.6 percent shooting.
- Tip-off is set for 8:00pm Wednesday between Syracuse and Miami with the ACC Network handling television responsibilities.