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Saturday, Feb 03, 2018 at 8:20 pm

Virginia Handles Syracuse, Sweeps Season Series

By Jake Marsh – SYRACUSE, NY

When the ACC’s top defense and the ACC’s No. 12 offense clash on the basketball court, all signs would point towards the final score going one way.

And on Saturday inside the Carrier Dome, that was exactly the case.

No. 2 Virginia (22-1, 11-0) and head coach Tony Bennett’s defense cruised past Syracuse (15-8, 4-6) 59-44 to cement the Orange’s second consecutive loss.

The Orange made history on Jim Boeheim Court vs. the Cavaliers, but SU fans may want to turn away to see what that exactly entails.

Syracuse’s 44 points are the lowest scoring total in the Carrier Dome era. Virginia’s historically daunting defense certainly had a lot to do with that.

Coach Boeheim said his team didn’t have much a response to what UVA’s program is known for.

“You’re really going to have trouble scoring against Virginia,” he said. “They’re a really good defensive team. We rely on our two guards to score and make plays, and when they don’t, we have a problem offensively.”

Speaking of those guards and leaders for SU, Tyus Battle and Frank Howard led the Orange with 15 points and 11 points, respectively.

Like his head coach, Battle, a sophomore, had nothing but praise for UVA’s defense.

“They played really good pack-line defense. They clogged the lane up,” Syracuse’s leading scorer said. “It just makes it tough all around. So, they forced us into taking some tough shots and did not make enough today.”

The New Jersey native, Howard, and freshman Oshae Brissett all played the full 40 minutes for SU.

Down low, Marek Dolezaj, Matthew Moyer, and Paschal Chukwu split the duties in the paint. Bourama Sidibe (knee) did not enter the game.

Despite the loss, Syracuse’s hall-of-fame coach knows what’s ahead for the Orange.

“The bottom line is we’re sitting here, we’ve won 15 games and we’ve got eight games left,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to win a few of those games and the way we are playing offensively right now, it’s going to be very difficult. We have to play better on offense.”

A depleted roster may not bode well with a short turnaround, but that is exactly what Syracuse faces.

Coach Boeheim and company head to Louisville on Monday night to face a tough Cardinals team and new head coach David Padgett, before heading back home for two straight against Wake Forest and North Carolina State.