No. 3 men’s basketball survives Syracuse at home

20180109-MBBallvSyracuse-SLindamood072

Sophomore guard Kyle Guy led the Cavaliers in scoring with 22 points while playing for a full 40 minutes. 

Sarah Lindamood | Cavalier Daily

The No. 3 Virginia basketball team took its six-game win streak and highest ranking since 2016 into a tough matchup against Syracuse at John Paul Jones Arena Tuesday night. In a defensive slugfest that went down to the wire, the Cavaliers (15-1, 4-0 ACC) outlasted the Orange (12-5, 1-3 ACC) 68-61 to stay unbeaten in conference play. 

The Cavaliers got perhaps their biggest defensive challenge of the season against the trademark zone defense of Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim. With the middle of the paint neutralized all night by the lengthy Orange bigs, Virginia had to rely on jump shots and threes for most of the night. Luckily for the Cavaliers, sharpshooting sophomore guard Kyle Guy regained his form from beyond the arc. Guy totaled 22 points to lead Virginia and made five of his 11 attempts from deep. 

When Virginia struggled to make shots from deep in the first half, redshirt freshman guard De’Andre Hunter gave the team a major lift off the bench. Hunter scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, penetrating the middle of the zone to create offense off the bounce. 

Syracuse kept pace with Virginia all night with strong offensive rebounding and tough baskets. The Orange grabbed 19 offensive boards, 10 of which came from seven-foot-two junior center Paschal Chukwu. Junior guard Frank Howard led the Orange with 18 points, but his seven turnovers gave Virginia chances for extra positions and transition buckets. Virginia struggled to break Syracuse’s desperation press at the end of the game — leading to nervous memories of the Cavaliers’ 2016 Elite Eight loss — but eventually ran out the clock with clutch free throws. 

Virginia continued its dominance in the ACC with a gritty win over the Orange. The Cavaliers will return to JPJ Sunday night to take on the NC State Wolfpack.

related stories