The Virginia Cavaliers sunk a Syracuse team fighting against the bubble.
The Virginia Cavaliers closed out the Syracuse Orange, 67-62, hurting the already very bleak tournament chances for SU.
Jayden Gardner led the way for the Cavaliers with 17 points, also coming up with a huge charge call late in the game. Kihei Clark contributed 12 points and 10 assists, while Armaan Franklin also added a dozen points.
For Syracuse, freshman Judah Mintz continued to assert himself, going 8-for-13 from the field for 20 points. Jesse Edwards rebounded after a bad game against Virginia Tech to score 14 points.
Sophomore Benny Williams wasn’t at the game, but Jim Boeheim called it a “personal day” and that he would be back at practice this week.
Takeaway #1: Virginia keeps emotions in check
You could tell how much this game meant for Syracuse. It wasn’t close to a sellout crowd, but the fans that did pack the Dome made sure to make Virginia hear it. Syracuse remains without a quality win and could have pulled off a major one against the Cavaliers.
However, Tony Bennett’s squad didn’t succumb to the crowd noise or Syracuse’s defense and capitalized when it mattered down the stretch.
“It’s good to find out different ways to win,” said Gardner.
Takeaway #2: Syracuse made tough shots, but couldn’t make the easy ones
As usual, Judah Mintz pulled off some eye-popping shots. Jesse Edwards showed dominance inside, finishing over a tough Virginia frontcourt.
But Syracuse went 3-of-15 from three and 9-of-16 at the line. Justin Taylor, a 43.5% three-point shooter on the season, went just 1-of-5 and missed two wide-open attempts. Chris Bell also only connected on 1-of-4 shots from deep. Joe Girard III missed a transition layup.
You can chalk it up however you want, but coming up short on high-quality shots is not going to cut it against a team like Virginia.
Takeaway #3: Virginia’s ball movement is tremendous
Virginia’s passing is elite. The Cavaliers assisted on their first 10 field goals in the game and on 12 of their 13 total made shots in the first half.
Kihei Clark led the way with 10 assists at the point guard spot, but Ben Vander Plas also contributed 6 assists at the forward position. In total, Virginia had 19 assists on 23 total made shots. That’s high-quality basketball, even against a 2-3 zone where passing is really the only option to succeed.
Next game for the Virginia Cavaliers: @ Virginia Tech (Feb. 4 – Noon)
Next game for the Syracuse Orange: @ Boston College (Feb. 4 – 5 p.m.)