On the same day the #8 Virginia Cavaliers (11-2, 7-0 ACC) reentered the top 10 in the AP poll, they knocked off the Syracuse Orange (9-5, 3-4 ACC) by a score of 81-58 in Charlottesville.
Syracuse’s zone defense stymied the Hoos in the opening minutes, but then the shots started to fall for the Hoos. Sam Hauser drained a deep three and Trey Murphy III hit a three after a Hauser offensive rebound to make the score 8-6 UVA. Kihei Clark stepped up as a playmaker during a 12-0 run for UVA using two alley oops to Jay Huff and one to Trey Murphy III to extend the lead to 14-6. Buddy Boehiem led the Orange early on with 6 points, keeping them in the game.
The Hoos jumped out to a 27-18 lead with the help of back-to-back threes by Sam Hauser and a putback by Francisco Caffaro. Hauser finished with 21 points and was 7-13 from beyond the arc. The Orange couldn’t locate him and UVA’s great passing got him a ton of good looks. However, Syracuse stayed close by forcing a number of turnovers and converting these chances. At halftime, UVA led 35-26. Syracuse was shooting just 18% (2-11) from deep while UVA was at 41% (7-17), and Quincy Guerrier, Syracuse’s leading scorer this season, had just 4 points at the break.
In the second half, Sam Hauser opened the scoring with another triple, and Jay Huff followed with one of his own. Jay Huff had an outstanding night with career highs in points (21) and rebounds (12). The Hoos continued to make three pointers, finishing with 14 makes on 31 attempts, good for 45% on the night.
With 12 minutes remaining in the game, Reece Beekman finished 1-2 at the free throw line. Although this is unremarkable in most games, that was the first made free throw by either team of the entire game. Later, a Jay Huff block led to a Casey Morsell transition dunk off of the assist from Kihei Clark. Although the Cavalier point guard only finished with 4 points on 6 shots, he had a season high 9 assists and just 2 turnovers.
Syracuse came out of a timeout down 59-44 and applied full court pressure, which disrupted the offensive flow for the Hoos. UVA committed three turnovers in less than a minute and 12 in total. Quincy Guerrier had a strong second half and finished with a team-high 15 points, and Alan Griffin finished with 13 points. After a rough start to the press break, UVA was able to get some easy dunks and sustain a brief comeback from the Orange to put the game away, 81-58.
In their 15th straight ACC win dating back to last season, the Hoos finished with 23 assists on 29 made field goals, which is a credit to their teamwork and shot-making abilities. Tony Bennett’s teams have historically won on defense, but the 2020-2021 team has put up big numbers all season on offense, and this game was a prime example.
Virginia will face its rival #20 Virginia Tech on Saturday in Blacksburg for the first time this season, after the initial rivalry game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within UVA’s program.