Men’s Basketball grabs big road win over Virginia

SU secures big road win over Virginia

The Orange exact revenge on No. 18 Virginia for November's home loss with an electrifying overtime finish.
Published: January 13, 2020
Syracuse University vs. University of Virginia
The Syracuse bench erupts after Buddy Boeheim's three-point shot from nearly half court as the shot clock expired.

Sluggish scoring: The sequel

When the teams touched gloves in early November, it was more of a war of attrition than a slugfest to start the game. In keeping with tradition, the first half was relatively low scoring, but the Orange managed to stay on top with some excellent shooting by Hughes and Girard.

Things were back and forth to start the evening, with both teams resting at eleven points by the second media timeout. Both teams dug their heels in on defense, just like their first matchup. However, in the first game, Syracuse couldn’t land a shot. This time around, Elijah Hughes decided enough was enough, sinking a three-pointer from way beyond the arc to spark an 11-4 run by Syracuse.

In that span, Hughes had a second from downtown, while Joe Girard III nailed a pair of his own. Syracuse planted their flag in the soil of three-point shooting, and this time, it paid off. With Girard’s pair of threes and two free throws, the Orange took a solid lead, and those free throws are far from a throwaway statistic. Girard has the best free throw percentage in the entirety of NCAA Division I basketball.

Syracuse University vs. University of Virginia
Syracuse's Marek Dolezaj passes the ball over the heads of Virginia players.

With their shooting, the Orange managed to enter halftime leading 24-20, despite a solid dunk by Virginia’s Jay Huff in the closing seconds. The dunk was only foreshadowing for the second half.

“Big” Trouble in Little Charlottesville

The Orange entered the second half with some good work in the paint. Bourama Sidibe fought for an early layup, while Hughes had a pair of fast breaks for a layup and a dunk to rocket Syracuse to a seven-point lead. Their valiant efforts were cut short by fouls.

Almost immediately after Hughes’ dunk, Sidibe got his fourth foul, and Dolezaj followed suit, forcing the ‘Cuse’s top big men to sit on the sideline. Syracuse’s offense thrives the most when that pair is effective. Virginia’s 12-0 run following their departure came as little surprise.

Syracuse University vs. University of Virginia
SU's Elijah Hughes, who scored 18 total points and is currently ranked second overall among ACC scorers, dribbles around Virginia's Braxton Key.

Dolezaj returned to the game and eventually drew a foul. He nailed both attempts to bring the score back down to 35-32 and then provided an assist for another Joe Girard three to rein in a tie.

Neither team scored for another four minutes, but it was for naught, as each team retaliated after each subsequent score, allowing for a 43-43 tie that sent the game into overtime.

The Orange overcome

The Cavaliers’ Mamadi Diakite opened things up with a layup to take a lead, but Syracuse came to win in the extra minutes. Hughes, Boeheim, and Girard sank consecutive shots from downtown to take the lead once and for all.

Syracuse University vs. University of Virginia
Sophomore guard Buddy Boeheim smiles after making a nearly half-court shot.

Syracuse’s win is huge, but it was cemented by a shot that is likely going to grace SportsCenter and Twitter timelines for at least the next few days. Buddy Boeheim lobbed a floater from a different area code as the shot clock expired that banked in to extend to 57-49. Looking just as surprised as the entire Virginia crowd, Boeheim was all smiles as the 30-foot prayer clad their victory in bronze.

With a bit more negligible scoring late in the contest, the final score was 63-55, as the underdog Syracuse Orange marched below the Mason-Dixon Line and shocked the nation with a powerful statement win over the defending national champions.

 

Syracuse University vs. University of Virginia
Virginia guard Tomas Woldetensae wipes sweat from his face after being defeated Saturday by the unranked Orange.

Moving forward

Syracuse’s triumph was in stark contrast to the Virginia Tech and Notre Dame matches they lost to a comeback. With such a dazzling win, they look set to have some serious momentum as they progress through their conference matchups.

Saturday’s win was a confidence boost, preview of things to come, or both. The Orange (9-7, 2-3 ACC) and their fans have a lot to look forward to when they square off against the Boston College Eagles this Wednesday at 6:30 in the Dome.

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is a visual journalist for The NewsHouse.