Virginia basketball annihilates SU men in final home contest

Virginia basketball annihilates SU men in final home contest

The Cavaliers drained a whopping 18 three-pointers.
Published: March 5, 2019
Marek Dolezaj of Syracuse Men's Basketball vs. Virginia
University of Virginia's Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff block a shot from Syracuse's Marek Dolezaj.

A Syracuse lead at halftime quickly diminished in the second half after the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers dominated from beyond the arc and finished off the Orange 79-53.

The first half was everything Syracuse men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim could ask for. The Orange (19-11, 10-7) took a two-point lead into half against Virginia (27-2, 15-2). The Orange moved the ball well and were able to get good looks against Virginia’s vaunted pack line defense. Buddy Boeheim was able to come off the bench and hit threes that stalled Virginia runs late in the first half.

Even with Virginia shooting 8-for-12 from three-point range in the first half, the Orange were able to keep the Cavaliers at bay by forcing seven turnovers.

Offensively, Syracuse was solid in the first 20 minutes. The Orange were able to move the ball effectively to get some great shots over the Virginia defense. Syracuse only shot 38.7 percent from the field in the first half, but they still found a way to control the game.

Buddy Boeheim of Syracuse Men's Basketball vs. Virginia
Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim shoots a three-point shot over Virginia's Kyle Guy.

Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim were able to get good looks from the three-point line, and Paschal Chukwu crashed the boards and anchored the Orange defense.

“We moved the ball well and got good shots,” Jim Boeheim said of Syracuse’s first half performance.

The mood in the Carrier Dome was electric, as fans could feel that the Orange would finally finish off a signature upset, on Senior Night, after coming so close against Duke and North Carolina in the previous week.

But entering the second half, Virginia turned its play to another level.

The Cavaliers shot 76.9 percent from the three-point line in the second half and outscored Syracuse 47 to 19 in the closing period.

The trio of veterans — Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and De’Andre Hunter — propelled Virginia to a second half performance that buried Syracuse.

arek Dolezaj and Frank Howard of Syracuse Men's Basketball
Syracuse's Marek Dolezaj (left) and Frank Howard (right) go after a loose ball along with University of Virginia's Braxton Key.

Jerome was working a soft spot at the high post in Jim Boeheim’s signature 2-3 zone that freed up Hunter and Guy for easy shots. Jerome scored 16 points and recorded 14 assists. His distribution of the ball was a huge factor in UVA’s turn around.

Junior Jerome dropped 25 points and went 8 for 10 from the three-point stripe as well. At the end of the game, Virginia tied a school record for most threes with 18, and shot 72 percent from downtown. Jim Boeheim was particularly impressed with the level of play that UVA showed in the second half.

“We went into the game wanting to make them drive and get them off the three point line,” Boeheim said of his game plan heading into tonight’s matchup. “We didn’t do that. Our defense broke down and we allowed them to shoot.”

Boeheim was also taken back by how well Virginia shot the ball, stating that it was one of the best shooting performances he’d ever seen.

While Virginia was unbelievable from the field, the Syracuse defense also struggled to rotate, as Jerome was able to manipulate the 2-3 zone heavily from the high post.

The Syracuse offense completely stalled. Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett were focal points of the offensive game plan and still struggled to get going.

Tyus Battle of Syracuse Men's Basketball vs. Virginia
Syracuse's Tyus Battle tries to get around University of Virginia's De'Andre Hunter.

Battle went 5 for 19 from the field for the whole game and only scored 11 points. The Virginia defense keyed in on Battle’s mid-range game, and De’Andre Hunter prevented Battle from getting any easy looks.

“We thought we needed length on him,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said on the tools Virginia needed to contain Battle. “We really wanted De’Andre on him as much as possible.”

Brissett’s offensive woes continued in tonight’s game as well. Brissett, who’s averaging 12.4 points per game with 39 percent shooting, was held in check all night by Jerome. Brissett scored six points, and went 2 for 8 in the loss.

Up next for the Orange is the regular season finale at noon on March 9 at Clemson before ACC Tournament play starts next week.

Syracuse Men's Basketball
University of Virginia's Jack Salt dives as Syracuse's Tyus Battle grabs the ball.
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is a contributor to The NewsHouse.