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Let’s not make a habit of this: #11 Virginia survives another second-half lull

kadin shedrick
Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia played maybe its best 28 minutes of basketball this season. Then it had to survive another lull that let Syracuse claw its way back in.

The Cavaliers led by as many as 23, then went without a point for nearly eight minutes before Reece Beekman saved them late in a 73-66 win over the Orange on Saturday at JPJ.

The win is Tony Bennett’s 327th at Virginia, a new school record, putting him one ahead of the legendary Terry Holland, who coached 326 wins from 1974-1990, the first golden era of UVA Basketball.

The lull

Virginia led 57-35 with 11:41 left after Isaac McKneely drained a three. At that moment, the ‘Hoos had made eight of their 14 shots from the field in the second half, and were 10-of-17 for the game from behind the arc, consistently getting good looks against Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone.

The good looks were still there during the extended drought, but the shots stopped falling.

Syracuse, on its side, didn’t exactly light it up. As Virginia went scoreless for an interminable 7:39 stretch, the Orange was able to go on a 13-0 run to get the margin down to nine, but the damage could have been a lot worse.

‘Cuse was just 4-of-10 from the field over that stretch.

Good defense is a big help in these situations.

Tight down the stretch

A pair of Kadin Shedrick free throws at the 4:02 mark broke the Virginia drought, but it was a game down the stretch.

It took a big late run from Beekman, who had just three points into the final minutes, but had 10 in the final 2:44 – a three, a short jumper, and five free throws.

A pair of Joe Girard threes cut the margin to eight, 64-56, with 1:39 left, and a Chris Bell three got it to seven with 37 seconds left, but that’s as close as it would get.

‘Cuse was 13-of-21 from the field in the nearly 14-minute second-half stretch after falling behind by 23, which will get Bennett’s attention, after Pitt dropped 45 points in the second half of its come-from-behind 68-65 win over UVA on Tuesday.

Analysis

The player of the game only had five points – Kihei Clark, who was used by Bennett in the distributor role in the zone offense, setting up in the soft spot of the zone at the foul line.

Clark recorded 11 assists for Virginia.

Armaan Franklin led UVA with 16 points. Nine of those came in the opening 2:44 on a trio of threes.

Franklin had just one make the rest of the way – finishing 4-of-11 from the field, and he struggled at the line as well, missing a pair in the final minute, finishing 4-of-7 there.

Beekman finished with 13 points and seven assists.

Isaac McKneely had 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from three.

Shedrick, who as usual battled foul trouble, had 11 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes.

Jayden Gardner had 10 points.

Girard had 19 points to lead Syracuse.

Chris Graham

In addition to being the editor of Augusta Free Press, I've written seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For my commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP. Want to reach me? Try [email protected].