Syracuse Comeback Falls Short
Syracuse lost its third game in a row against #3 Virginia Wednesday night by a score of 68-61.
After a back and forth first half, the Cavaliers took a 29-26 lead into the break. Virginia’s 3-point shooting was the difference, as the Cavaliers shot 40% from deep over the final 20 minutes. Virginia built a 14 point lead with 1:24 remaining. Syracuse used their full-court press to trim the lead to as low as 5, but the time ran out on the Orange’s comeback and the Cavaliers hung on for the win.
It was a defensive battle throughout, as neither team shot the ball well. Syracuse shot 38.3% from the field compared to a 37.7% clip for Virginia. Virginia passed the ball effectively versus Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and recorded 15 assists. Syracuse’s offense fell into disarray in the second half. The Orange tried to use one-on-one matchups to beat Virginia off the dribble. That tactic was unsuccessful. Syracuse finished the game with just 3 assists.
One positive for the Orange was that they were more aggressive on the boards than they were in their two previous games. Syracuse outrebounded Virginia 41-31, including a 19-13 advantage on the offensive glass.
The Cavaliers were led by Kyle Guy who scored 22 points on 5-of-11 shooting from behind the arc. Freshman De’Andre Hunter was effective in the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone in the first half for Virginia and finished with 15 points. Devon Hall added 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists as well to help pace the Cavaliers.
Syracuse was led by Frank Howard who scored 18 points in the losing effort. Oshae Brissett added 16 points and 8 rebounds. Tyus Battle finished with 12 points before fouling out. Paschal Chukwu was one point away from a double-double. The junior center recorded 9 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Despite the loss, Syracuse was the first ACC team to score more than 60 points versus Virginia so far this season.
Jim Boeheim reflected on the effectiveness of his team’s full-court press in the postgame press conference. “We can press for little bits, you know we’re playing six guys, it’s hard to press a lot,” Boeheim said. “We thought we could keep the game a little more in touch tonight and use it in the last five or six minutes, but we weren’t in touch. That was the problem.”
With the loss, Syracuse falls to 12-5 overall and 1-3 in the ACC, while Virginia improved to 15-1, 4-0 in conference.
Syracuse will travel to Tallahassee, FL to take on the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, January 13 at 2pm. Florida State is ranked 23rd in the country and enters the game 12-3 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. The Seminoles are coming off an 80-74 defeat at the hands of #15 Miami on the road. Prior to playing Syracuse on Saturday, Florida State will also host Louisville at 9pm on Wednesday. The Seminoles are led by Terance Mann who is averaging 14.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. Last year, Syracuse won the lone meeting between the two teams 82-72 in the Carrier Dome.