Syracuse fell behind on #11 Virginia’s first possession and never got even, trailing by as many as 23 points before falling on the road, 73-66. The Orange (10-6, 3-2 ACC) fought their way back into the game, shaving 16 points off the margin in the game’s final 15 minutes, but ultimately could not complete the comeback against the Cavaliers (11-3, 3-2).
Virginia posted runs to start both halves, dictating the terms of the contest. The Cavs opened the game with an 11-2 burst and did even better after halftime, hanging 13 straight points en route to a 15-1 run and that insurmountable 23-point lead.
SU fought back after each push from the hosts, but could never get over the hump. Syracuse struck back with a 7-2 run after the opening Virginia volley to draw within 13-9 before the contest was nine minutes old. The Cavaliers responded with seven straight points to grab their first double digit lead of the evening.
The lead stayed between a half and full dozen for the next seven minutes, then Virginia tallied seven more markers in a row, stretching their lead to 17 with under four minutes until the break. Fortunes flipped at that point, as the Orange scored the last eight points of the half to pull within 35-26.
The Cavaliers scored 15 of the game’s next 16 points to a 50-27 lead just over four-and-a-half minutes after action resumed. The hosts then held SU at bay for four more minutes until they ran off 13 straight points.
Judah Mintz scored seven straight for Syracuse, including a three-pointer, to jumpstart the offense. Joe Girard III broke free from the Cavs defense for a triple of his own, then Chris Bell added a basket and Maliq Brown a foul shot to make the margin single digits at 57-48 with just under five minutes remaining.
Virginia used a 7-2 burst to push the lead out to 14, but Girard hit a pair of treys in a dozen seconds to bring the Orange within 64-56. That would be as close as SU would get until the final score of the night as the Cavaliers scored on their next two trips, then were unbothered by the SU full court press and made enough foul shots to stay ahead by three possessions through the final horn.
Girard hit four three-pointers in the second half (five overall), as he piled up 14 of his game-high 19 points after halftime. Like his backcourt mate, Mintz did a lot of work after the break, scoring up 12 of his 18 points in the second session. Playing over 36 minutes for a sick Benny Williams, Brown finished with ten points and eight boards. Jesse Edwards had ten boards and Mounir Hima swatted four shots.
Armaan Franklin led a balanced offensive attack for Virginia, making four threes en route to 16 points. Reece Beekman had 13 points and seven assists while Isaac McKneely had four triples for a dozen points. Kaden Shedrick did a little of everything with 11 points, a team-high seven boards, four blocks, and three steals. Jayden Gardner had ten points and Kihei Clark handed out 11 assists.