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Jimmy Boeheim raised both arms and signaled the crowd in the Carrier Dome to cheer louder moments after he slammed down a second-half dunk against Virginia. In transition, Buddy Boeheim set up his brother in the right corner. Jimmy dribbled inside, dunked to give SU a one-point lead as he was fouled and then made the free throw.
But Virginia answered with big-time plays of its own when Kadin Shedrick dunked later in the second half and Kihei Clark finished a smooth layup.
Saturday night, Virginia led by as many as 12 in the first half, but Syracuse clawed its way back courtesy of improved defense and 27 points from Buddy. But down the final stretch, Virginia pulled away for a five-point win.
Here are some observations from Syracuse’s (7-6, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) 74-69 loss to Virginia (8-5, 2-1 ACC) on Saturday night in the Dome:
Syracuse’s interior game forces UVA into foul trouble
The Orange had 40 points in the paint on Wednesday against Cornell and have built offensive momentum by getting Jesse Edwards and Jimmy going inside the 3-point arc.
But initially on Saturday night, Syracuse abandoned its efforts to drive inside, instead releasing contested 3-pointers. All of Syracuse’s first 12 points came from beyond the arc, and 21 of the game’s first 27 points came from deep. The Orange didn’t score a 2-point shot for the first 13 minutes until Buddy got into the paint and finished a right-handed hook shot.
As the game went on, Jimmy started to drive more frequently, getting to the free-throw line and forcing both Reece Beekman and Jayden Gardner into foul trouble. Gardner is UVA’s top scorer and rebounder, but he played only seven minutes in the first half after committing two fouls in the first 10 minutes. Jimmy drove once more with less than six minutes left in the game and forced Gardner into his fourth foul.
The Orange trailed by as many as a dozen in the first half but tied the score at the halftime buzzer courtesy of a one-footed shot from Edwards. He cut to his right and lowered his shoulder against his defender as he drove inside before rising to convert an impressive hook shot.
Virginia flashes strong passing
On Virginia’s opening possessions, the Cavaliers strung the ball inside and then outside the SU zone. They made countless extra passes to find wide-open looks, both from deep and inside the arc.
On one, Armaan Franklin received a pass from the left wing, spun around his defender and slammed down a dunk to stretch UVA’s lead to three points. On another play, the Cavaliers connected swift passes that stretched as far low as the baseline and as high as Franklin, who drained the first 3-pointer of the game on an assist from Clark.
The Cavaliers had 22 assists on 30 field goals. Virginia answered the Carrier Dome crowd when Clark fired a perfect pass through the entire zone for Shedrick to make a layup along the baseline, giving Virginia a five-point lead midway through the second half.
And Gardner stretched the Cavaliers lead even further by dishing the ball to Shedrick instead of shooting it himself when he was right under the bucket. Shedrick converted the dunk, and Virginia proved that their extra passes paid off.
Buddy Boeheim, of course, ignites Syracuse
It was Buddy, Syracuse’s leading scorer, who was uncharacteristically quiet early in the game. He didn’t score a bucket until the seven-minute mark in the first half, but then he got to work. He drove and converted both free throws to cut Virginia’s lead to single-digits, and then hit a pull-up 3-pointer in transition to cut the deficit to five. He got to the line and converted four more free throws in the final two minutes of the half.
In the second half, the SU star capped off a 5-0 run when he swished a right-handed hook shot. That came moments after he hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock wound down.
When it looked like Virginia might be starting to pull away by building a four-point lead with about 10 minutes remaining, Buddy swished a deep 3-pointer. Down the stretch in the last four minutes, when SU needed him most, he hit a wide-open 3 in transition to get SU within three points of the Cavaliers. Buddy drew two defenders for much of the second half and still finished with 27 points.
Syracuse gets to the free-throw line but doesn’t convert enough
Syracuse started 1-of-4 from the free-throw line, with one miss from Edwards and two from Jimmy. The latter’s duo of misses led the crowd in the Dome to groan audibly in frustration. Last year, SU ranked 16th in the nation in free-throw shooting — 78.2% — but this season, the Orange sank to 113th before Wednesday’s matchup.
The Virginia game, where SU shot 15-of-23, will likely drop that ranking even lower. Jimmy, again, missed both free throws inside the final six minutes when the Virginia lead was slim.
The Orange did well to get to the free-throw line by driving inside, earning 23 free throws. They didn’t convert all of their chances, though. Virginia, on the other hand, only had 10 free throws but made seven. Clark converted both free throws in the final 25 seconds to lead his team to victory.
The post Observations from Syracuse-Virginia: UVA’s passing, SU’s solid interior game appeared first on The Daily Orange.