Syracuse Men’s Basketball Falls to #3 Virginia 68-61
By Adam Unger
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.— Less than five minutes into Syracuse’s bout with No. 3 Virginia, SU starting point guard Frank Howard fell right into UVA’s trap. After two quick turnovers, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim had seen enough and pulled Howard off the court.
“You’re a junior. You’re playing 40 minutes a game in college,” Boeheim said. “If you’re a freshman, you can’t do that. If you’re a sophomore, you can’t do that.”
Despite his early troubles, Howard wound up with 18 points to lead the Orange (12-5, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). But his scoring wasn’t enough as SU struggled on the road against the nation’s best defense in Virginia (15-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
But Syracuse challenged the Cavaliers early on. After subbing back in, Howard kept the contest close. Both sides traded blows in the first half, but the Orange had no answer for De’Andre Hunter. The guard scored eight points within the first three minutes he checked into the game.
“Whenever he comes up, he just turned and shot it,” sophomore center Paschal Chukwu said. “He made a couple and Coach really told me about it, so I had to be aware of that.”
At the half, Virginia lead SU 29-26 in the anticipated defensive stalemate. But SU opened the second half quickly. The Orange picked up the first two field goals to take a 31-29 lead. But that was the last time SU led in this one, as UVA caught fire from beyond the arc.
Sophomore guard Ty Jerome hit three straight triples in a two-minute span, and during that time, UVA more than doubled its lead.
“[Jerome] was zero-for-three in the first half,” Boeheim said. “Those last two were pretty deep, but we should’ve covered that better.”
Virginia’s first six field goals in the second half were all from behind the arc. In the first half, the Cavaliers shot just 25 percent from long range. But in the second half, they made 40 percent.
While UVA got hot, SU went ice cold, dropping from 44 percent from beyond the arc in the first frame to just 17 percent in the second half.
“We went about… zero-for-nine from the three-point line to start the second half,” Boeheim said. “We made some of those in the first half and that kept us in the game.”
Virginia’s shooting and defensive efforts ballooned its lead to 14 with just 1:30 left in the game. Additionally, SU’s top scorer this season, Tyus Battle, fouled out with just 12 points.
“You just have to be careful not to pick up the last foul, and I picked it up,” Battle said.
Keeping precedent to recent games against UVA, the Orange made a late run, cutting the Cavaliers’ lead to just five. But it was too little too late for SU as it dropped its third straight game. The team will look to right the ship on the road against Florida State this Saturday.