Syracuse 12-5 (1-3) was outplayed on the road by Virginia 15-1 (4-0) in a 68-61 lost. The Orange had a 31-29 lead early in the second half but the Cavaliers took control of the game behind a 15-4 run and cruised to a comfortable win.
Why Syracuse lost
Virginia’s top ranked defense frustrated Syracuse all night and held the Orange to 38% field goal shooting and 29% three point shooting. Syracuse shot 4-9 from three point range in the first half but the Cavaliers really cracked down in the second half as the Orange went 2-11. Syracuse’s offense was reliant on isolation plays for Battle and Howard most of the night and looked stagnant yet again and settled for tough jump shots all night. The biggest giveaway of their poor offensive performance is the Orange finished with 3 assists compared to 15 for Virginia. Syracuse must improve their ball movement and needs to set more off ball screens to be effective.
Guards Ty Jerome (pictured below) and Kyle Guy paced Virginia during a crucial second half stretch in which the Cavaliers extended the lead and held onto it for good. Jerome and Guy combined for 21 points and 5 three pointers in the second half.
Coach Jim Boeheim said, “We didn’t get to Jerome a couple times and Guy once and you know those guys are good shooters and they’re going to make shots.”Embed from Getty Images
Syracuse played well in the first half due to their three point shooting and rebounding. The Orange shot 44% from three range and dominated Virginia on the boards 20-13.
Guard Frank Howard led Syracuse with 11 points and 3 three pointers in the first half for the third straight game but unfortunately he would cool off in the second half.
Center Paschal Chukwu was a bright spot for the Orange after his disappointing 2 points and 3 rebounds performance against Notre Dame on Saturday. Chukwu had 9 rebounds and 2 blocks at halftime and would finish the game with 9 points and a season-high 16 rebounds.
What held the Orange back in the first half was their ineffectiveness to creative any offense. Syracuse generated 1 assist in the first half compared to 8 assists by Virginia. The Orange were constantly standing around and creating isolation opportunities for Battle and Howard but it led to a lot of tough looks.
Virginia guard Kyle Guy (pictured below) led the team with 9 points on 3 three pointers in the first half and guard De’Andre Hunter came off the bench to score 13 points on 5-8 shooting. Hunter carried the Cavaliers for a period and scored 8 straight points.Embed from Getty Images
Syracuse took a 31-30 lead with 17:20 to go but Virginia rattled off a 14-4 run behind 3 free throws and a 3 pointer from Guy and 3 three pointers from Jerome to take a 44-35 lead. Guy and Jerome had all of the Cavaliers points until the 10:10 mark in the half when Devon Hall made a 3 pointer.
Syracuse’s “Big 3” of Tyus Battle (pictured below), Oshae Brissett and Howard struggled offensively and combined to 17-51 from the field. Howard played well offensively in the first half but faded in the second half shooting only 2-9 from the field. Virginia’s touted defense smothered Syracuse for much of the second half and made it extremely difficult for anyone to get a good shot off. Brissett was forcing shots near the hoop and taking contested jumpers he usually would pass up on. Battle had a few buckets down the stretch but he had to work for each of them as Virginia didn’t give him many easy looks. The Cavaliers stingy defense also forced Howard into 7 turnovers which hurt Syracuse’s second half comeback efforts.Embed from Getty Images
One bright spot was the play of forward Matthew Moyer. Moyer was a spark for Syracuse with a number of hustle plays and few nice tip-ins and great defense. He finished the game with 6 points and 5 rebounds.
Virginia was in control most of the second half but the Orange cut it to 6 points with 7:44 left but couldn’t cut the lead any further until the final minute of the game when they were pressing and trapping. Syracuse forced back to back turnovers and cut the lead to 64-59 but it was too little too late.
This loss, although expected, is tough to swallow as the Orange lose their third straight and fall to 1-3 in the ACC. 1-3 ranks Syracuse 15th in the ACC standings. The Orange have another tough test on the road on Saturday against #23 Florida State.