ACC play revolves around team cohesion. Usually when Buddy Boeheim drops 27 points and makes five threes, you’d think Syracuse has a pretty solid chance to win. If Jimmy Boeheim also pitches in 18, you figure SU should be cruising to at least 75 points. However, the questions around SU’s ability to succeed in conference play don’t involve Buddy or Jimmy. Instead, they focus on the Orange’s supporting cast, which flopped mightily tonight. The rest of Syracuse shot 32% from the floor, and while the Boeheims tried their best to drag SU along with them, the backup dancers were the reason the ‘Cuse picked up its first conference loss of the season.
SU started off extremely slow. Virginia scored seven points in the first 2:30, and at one point led by 10 with six minutes before halftime.
But the Cavaliers’ key players got in foul trouble before halftime, and Buddy was able to get loose. The younger Boeheim scored 9 points in the last 5 minutes to lead an SU on a 13-3 run, and tie the game at 33 apiece after the first 20 minutes.
Syracuse came out gangbusters in the second half, grabbing 11 offensive rebounds which led to 16 second chance points. However, the defense was non-existent. UVA scored 41 points and shot 63% from the field. Kihei Clark (17 points, 8 assists) made big buckets down the stretch (as always), and the Orange never fully handled Jayden Gardner (15 points) in the middle of the zone. The Cavaliers forced the 2-3 to extend late in the game, and Clark jitterbugged his way into the lane with ease.
Offensively, the supporting casts’ weakness showed when Buddy faced pressure. Jimmy Boeheim cooled off in the second half, and missed big free throws down the stretch. Cole Swider fired up brick after brick, finishing the day 3-12 from the field with just eight points. And Joe Girard was a non-factor all day, making just one three pointer.
SU has a trap game up next against a sneakily decent Miami team on Wednesday. With the way this team is playing right now, every ACC contest could go down to the wire.