The Atlantic Coast Conference’s No. 1 defense got the better of the league’s highest-scoring offense, and No. 8 Virginia easily handled Syracuse basketball on Monday evening in Charlottesville, Va.
Let me be clear. It was always going to prove a herculean task for the Orange to upset ACC leader UVA on the road. The Cavaliers are playing tremendous basketball of late, and the ‘Cuse needed to hit on a high percentage from the field to prevail. That’s didn’t occur.
In recent years, Virginia has prided itself on the team’s suffocating defense. Head coach Jim Boeheim said in his post-game Zoom call with media members after the Orange’s 81-58 setback that the Cavaliers’ defense in the 2020-21 campaign maybe isn’t quite as good as in other recent stanzas, but it’s still really good.
However, what UVA brings to the table in the present term is an efficient offense, and that was on display on Monday night from John Paul Jones Arena.
Syracuse basketball ran into a Cavaliers’ offensive juggernaut.
Virginia (11-2, 7-0), which sits atop the ACC standings, is now on a seven-contest success streak, and it’s playing as well as just about any team across the country, save for Gonzaga and Baylor.
Against the ‘Cuse (9-5, 3-4), the Cavaliers’ crisp passing and fluid ball movement absolutely shredded the Syracuse basketball 2-3 zone. UVA connected on nearly 50 percent from the field and roughly 45 percent from beyond the arc.
If Virginia consistently performs in that manner on offense, and keeps up its usual stingy defense, then the Cavaliers have to be considered as a significant Final Four contender come March.
For the Orange, meanwhile, its defense provided another example of its inconsistency in 2020-21, while the team’s offense had a challenging time making shots.
Overall, Syracuse basketball hit on about 37 percent from the field, as well as a paltry 20 percent from 3-point land. That won’t get it done versus Virginia.
Boeheim noted that his players received “some good looks, but we didn’t make enough of them to stay in the game.” UVA also dominated the Orange on the glass, and when the ‘Cuse is out-rebounded, it doesn’t fare well.
With this outcome, Syracuse basketball falls to 6-9 all-time against the Cavaliers, including a 3-8 mark since the Orange moved from the Big East Conference to the ACC.
The ‘Cuse has the rest of this week to practice and regroup, with Syracuse basketball next scheduled to suit up this Sunday, Jan. 31, versus N.C. State inside the Carrier Dome. Tip-off of this conference clash is slated for 6 pm, with television coverage on the ACC Network.