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No. 19 Syracuse followed its last-second upset win over then-No. 15 Louisville with a convincing road win against Miami on Thursday. The Orange never trailed against the Hurricanes despite just a 4-for-14 shooting performance from Dyaisha Fair. SU led by double digits for most of the second and third quarters, leading by 17 as it headed into the fourth.
Despite a late push from Miami where it cut the lead down to five, Georgia Woolley answered with a couple of buckets to quell any chances of a comeback. Woolley finished with a season-high 24 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, as the Orange came out with a 71-60 win.
After wins over Boston College, Louisville, Georgia Tech and now Miami, Syracuse has won four in a row. Now the Orange face Virginia in the second leg of a two-game road trip this week. The Cavaliers currently sit in the bottom third of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings but have won two straight.
Here’s everything you need to know about No. 19 Syracuse’s (21-4, 11-3 ACC) next opponent Virginia (12-12, 4-9 ACC), Sunday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Syracuse leads 10-4
Last time they played…
Syracuse defeated Virginia 90-72 at the JMA Wireless Dome on Jan. 26, 2023. Boosted by a career performance from Fair, Syracuse comfortably defeated the Cavaliers. The point guard knocked down a program record eight 3-pointers — which she since broke against Florida State on Jan. 21 — and scored a season-high 36 points.
Alaina Rice also poured in 18 points while Woolley came off the bench to score 17. Through Fair’s dominance, Syracuse maintained a comfortable lead throughout, but the Cavaliers cut it down to seven at the start of the fourth quarter. Yet the Orange finished strong, outscoring Virginia 25-14 in the fourth to pull out the win.
The Cavaliers Report
According to HerHoopsStats, Syracuse has the 34th-best offense in the country (76.1 points per game), but Virginia can certainly keep up with SU’s scoring. The Cavaliers’ 73.5 points per game is just inside the top 50, according to HerHoopsStats. But outside of UVA’s scoring, not much stands out on the offensive end. The Cavaliers shoot just 39.6% from the field, which ranks outside the top 200, and their 31% from beyond the arc ranks 169th.
Where Virginia excels is rebounding. Similar to Syracuse, the Cavaliers attack the offensive glass and pull in 14.2 offensive boards per game. Virginia does bring in more total rebounds than Syracuse with 43.3 per game, which is more than any other team in the conference outside North Carolina State. The Cavaliers utilize a team rebounding approach with no players averaging above six rebounds per game, but six players pull in at least four boards.
Defensively, UVA is a top 100 team in terms of field goal percentage allowed (38.9%) but is in the bottom third of the ACC in points per game allowed with 69.2.
How Syracuse beats Virginia
As much as it’s good to spread the ball around and not be reliant on Fair, it is crucial to get back on track after a poor performance against Miami. The Orange can’t afford a slump down the home stretch of the regular season from Fair if it wants a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament. After her success against Virginia last season, expect Fair to catch fire again.
UVA has to clear number one and two options on offense led by Kymora Johnson and Camryn Taylor. The guard-big duo averages 15 and 14 points per game respectively with no other UVA player scoring in double figures. With limited options outside Johnson and Taylor, the two will be the focal point of Syracuse’s defense on Sunday.
Limiting turnovers will also be a huge factor for SU. Against Louisville it had 13 turnovers — under its season average of 14.7 — and through the first three quarters against Miami, the Orange only had seven which allowed them to have a sizable lead. UVA forces 15.2 giveaways per game which ranks outside the top 100 in the nation according to HerHoopsStats. If the Orange can continue to handle the ball with care, they should have no problem taking care of Virginia on the road.
Stat to know: 4.8
Like offensive rebounding, Syracuse and Virginia are two of the best shot-blocking teams in the ACC. Virginia averages 4.8 per game — the fourth-best mark in the conference — led by Taylor with 21 total blocks, but five other players have registered double-digit rejections this season.
With both teams utilizing their length on the defensive end to block shots, it could lead to a physical battle down low. Alyssa Latham and Kyra Wood will be key to anchoring SU’s defense as they go up against Taylor and the rest of the UVA frontcourt. Whichever defense can guard the paint better could end up being the difference between these two teams.
Player to watch: No. 21 Kymora Johnson
A McDonald’s High School All-American and the No. 24 recruit in the 2023 recruiting class according to ESPN, Johnson has already made her mark in Charlottesville. The freshman has started all 24 games for Virginia this season and leads the Cavaliers in scoring (15.1 points per game). The point guard is UVA’s go-to scorer, taking over 100 more shots than the next closest player on her team. Johnson also has 127 assists on the season, while no other player on Virginia’s roster has more than 60.
Syracuse will have to be aware of Johnson’s offensive ability because she’s shown her ability to lead her team to upsets before this season. The highlight performance of Johnson’s freshman year came in a surprise upset over then-No. 15 Florida State where she scored 35 points on 14-for-20 shooting.
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