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Scott German: Quick hits from Virginia’s win over Syracuse

uva athleticsVirginia opened road play in the ACC with a hard-fought 74-69 win over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

If both teams appeared sluggish, it was understandable. It was nearly a month ago that Syracuse played its first ACC game. The Orange beat Florida State in Tallahassee on Dec. 4.

The Cavaliers were 1-1 in league play, coming off a dreadful 17-point loss to Clemson on Dec. 22, in which they managed just 50 points.

Virginia built a first-half lead of as many as 12 points, only to see the Orange battle back to tie the game at 33 by intermission.

In the second half, it simply came down to the fact that Syracuse could never seem to get the stop it needed.  Virginia had an answer each time the Orange took the lead or knotted the contest.

After Syracuse took a 47-45 lead on a Jimmy Boeheim dunk the Cavalier retaliated with a 7-0 run. Kadin Sedrick’s 3-point play gave Virginia a 52-45 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.


Kihei Clark, while spectacular may be a stretch, performed like he needs to, providing solid point guard play. Clark’s consecutive passes to Shedrick were surgically delivered and ignited the mini-Cavalanche that provided Virginia the separation it needed to win.

Clark contributed offensively as well, drilling a 3-point shot that gave the Cavaliers a 57-52 lead.  Another three by Clark pushed the lead to 68-62 late. But Clark’s dagger to the Orange was his weaving, drive to the basket against Syracuse’s big defenders to make it 70-64.

Clark spent the entire game beating the Syracuse press, and made all the crucial plays in crunch time, finishing the game with 17 points and eight assists.

Defense showing promise. Virginia held Syracuse to just 13 points in the first half’s opening 13 minutes. The Orange couldn’t score simply because they weren’t getting many shots up against the UVA defense, which was excellent guarding the paint. Virginia forced two SU shot-clock violations in the first half. The Cavalier pack-line defense was aggressive the entire game, and Syracuse didn’t seem particularly interested in attacking it. For the game, the Orange was a putrid 10-of-30 from behind the arc.

Rotation becoming clear. Virginia played eight players, with seven reaching double-digit minutes played.  Kadin Shedrick turned in possibly his most impressive effort of the season. Shedrick entered the contest averaging 6.3 points in just over 20 minutes of action per contest.

Against SU, Shedrick scored 12 points in 31 minutes. Shedrick’s dunk at the 7:38 mark of the second half was authoritative, and possibly sent the message that he could anchor the middle. Shedrick also added a team-high 11 rebounds.

Taine Murray also came alive in New York. Murray started the night averaging just 2.7 points in just under nine minutes per game. Tonight, with extended court time (14 minutes) Murray had seven points, connecting on 3-of-5 from the floor, including a key transition layup giving Virginia a 63-57 lead with just over five minutes remaining.

Armaan Franklin, now that’s what we’ve waiting for. Franklin began the game shooting just 41 percent from the floor. Against Syracuse, Franklin sparked Virginia’s offense, especially in the opening 20 minutes. The Indiana University transfer had 10 first-half points, hitting four of his nine field goal attempts. For the contest Franklin, finished 7-of-15 from the floor in 35 minutes.

Story by Scott German

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