Syracuse Basketball: Top observations as the Orange loses big at Virginia

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /

Syracuse basketball ran into a Virginia team on Saturday afternoon that shot lights out from the field, and that’s a problem for the Orange or any other foe of the Cavaliers.

I say that because UVA is known for being a prolific defensive unit, and the Cavaliers have shown that yet again so far in the young 2023-24 season.

So if Virginia is putting the clamps down on defense but also putting up points in droves on offense, the Cavaliers are going to prove pretty much unbeatable on any given day or night. This was the case on Saturday afternoon at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.

UVA (7-1, 1-0 in the ACC) connected on better than 50 percent from the field as a whole and also from the 3-point line, while the Orange struggled with its shooting. That led to an 84-62 road setback for the ‘Cuse (5-3, 0-1 in the ACC), which a few days ago had looked awesome in pounding LSU at home in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.

Here are my top observations as Syracuse basketball fell by 22 points at Virginia.

•The Cavaliers entered this Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams averaging about 65 points per game. They got 84 points on Saturday afternoon, while connecting on 54.5 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from beyond the arc, and 80.0 percent from the free-throw line.

•UVA built up a 13-point lead at halftime, and then the Cavaliers proceeded to make 7-of-8 from 3-point range to begin the second half. Ball game. When a defensive-minded squad shoots like that, there’s not much an opponent can do.

•Conversely, Syracuse basketball only hit on 40.7 percent from the field, 25.0 percent from deep and 68.4 percent from the charity stripe.

•In the all-important battle on the boards, Virginia had the edge over the ‘Cuse, 33-27. That being said, SU had a slight advantage, at 7-4, in second-chance points.

•These two ACC groups were tied at 27-all in bench points and 30-all in paint points.

•In other statistical categories, Virginia was ahead 11-6 in fast-break points, 4-2 in blocks, 8-6 in steals, 21-10 in assists, and 18-14 in points off of turnovers. UVA committed 10 turnovers, while Syracuse basketball committed 14 miscues.

•The Orange has now lost six in a row to Virginia, and the Cavaliers lead the all-time series, 14-6.

•Against its three toughest foes so far in 2023-24 (Tennessee, Gonzaga and now UVA), the ‘Cuse has fallen to all three of them by double-digits.

•Sophomore guard and Central New York native J.J. Starling paced Syracuse basketball with 16 points. He connected on 6-of-12 from the field, 2-3 from 3-point land, and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line.

•The only other ‘Cuse player to reach double-figures in scoring was sophomore big man Maliq Brown, who is from Culpeper, Va., about an hour away from Charlottesville. He tallied 10 points, five rebounds and one steal.

•Sophomore guard/wing Quadir Copeland was solid, collecting eight points, six boards, two assists and one steal.

•Next up for the ‘Cuse is a non-conference affair with Central New York neighbor Cornell out of the Ivy League. Syracuse basketball and the Big Red will play at the JMA Wireless Dome beginning at 8 pm on Tuesday, Dec. 5, with television coverage on the ACC Network.

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