What UVA Basketball fans need to know about Syracuse

uva basketballYou remember the first in the series of ugliest basketball games you’ve ever seen, the 48-34 Virginia win at Syracuse back in November.

The Orange shot 23.6 percent from the field in that one, and that was with 6’6” junior Elijah Hughes scoring 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting.

The rest of the ‘Cuse team: 20 points, on 7-of-40 shooting.

The win, at the time, seemed significant for a young Virginia team, but Syracuse has continued to have issues this season, and after its 67-63 loss to Virginia Tech in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night, it stands at 8-7 overall and just 1-3 in the ACC.

The Orange are still looking for an identity, with coach Jim Boeheim going with a six-man rotation for Tech.

Hughes (19.6 ppg, 4.8 rebs/g, 4.5 assists/g, 44.8% FG, 40.5% 3FG) is the do-everything, in an ACC-leading 37.7 minutes per game.

6’6” sophomore Buddy Boeheim, the coach’s son, doesn’t play like a coach’s son. The sharpshooter is averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting a team-best 40.7 percent from three, on a high volume (9.0 three attempts per game).

Joseph Girard, a 6’1” freshman, has emerged as the point for this young Syracuse team. The numbers aren’t great (11.9 ppg, 4.0 assists/g, 37.1% FG, 33.7% 3FG), but Girard has been a stabilizing force for the Orange.

Boeheim goes with two bigs in his regular rotation: 6’10” juniors Marek Dolezaj (9.9 ppg, 6.6 rebs/g, 54.3% FG) and Bourama Sidibe (5.5 ppg, 7.7 rebs/g, 64.3% FG).

The other guy to get minutes in the Tech loss was somewhat touted 6’7” freshman Quincy Guerrier (6.1 ppg, 4.9 rebs/g), who had 12 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench in the setback.

Those six have logged just short of 90 percent of the minutes on the floor for Boeheim this season, and 84.7 percent of the minutes over the Orange’s last five games.

The profile is classic Boeheim: big (two starters at 6’10”, two at 6’6”, a point at 6’1”), best-suited to playing his signature 2-3 zone, and actually, surprisingly, given the way the first game between these two played out, pretty good on offense (1.084 points per possession, 36th nationally, according to KenPom.com).


Syracuse (8-7, 1-3 ACC) at Virginia (11-3, 3-1 ACC)

Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN

ESPN Basketball Power Index: Virginia 77.6% win probability

KenPom.com: Virginia 73% win probability (60-53 W)

Story by Chris Graham

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