4:12 PM ET, March 1, 2014
John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Virginia
(AP) -- Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon did a double take when told that the Cavaliers have only won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship outright once in their history, and that it was 33 years ago.The 12th-ranked Cavaliers can notch their second Saturday with a win against No. 4 Syracuse in the biggest game in Charlottesville in decades, probably since Ralph Sampson was a Wahoo."I'm not even sure the rest of the guys on my team know that," the redshirt sophomore said when asked about the dubious championship fact. "I didn't know that until you just said it."That would be a huge accomplishment, really be unbelievable."The showdown in Virginia's 14,953-seat arena has been sold out for several months."As a player, you try to block out the distractions, block out the publicity the game is getting, because I really feel like it's not about that," Brogdon said. "At the end of the day it's just another basketball game. We've got to go in and play our game ... and impose our will from the beginning."The Cavaliers' style of play features coach Tony Bennett's trademark defense, which held Miami to an ACC-low for points in a 65-40 victory Wednesday. Virginia's defense is the stingiest in the nation, allowing 54.7 points per game.Virginia (24-5, 15-1) has won 12 straight overall and a school-record 17 in a row at home against conference competition, but hasn't faced a team of the Orange's caliber since hosting then-No. 3 Duke last Feb. 28. Indeed, the Blue Devils are the only ranked team the Cavaliers have beaten during their home winning streak.Syracuse (26-2, 13-2), in its first season in the ACC, has lost two of three since starting the season with 25 straight wins, a streak that made Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim's team rise to No. 1 in the AP Top 25.The Orange would be helped greatly if 3-point specialist Trevor Cooney returns to form. He has eight games in which he's converted at least five 3-pointers, but has missed 20 of 25 from behind the arc in the last four games."For him to be consistent from 3 is big for our team," said C.J. Fair, who leads Syracuse with a 16.5-point average, followed by Cooney at 12.8 per contest. "It keeps the defense honest. They can't key on one guy. It really stretches the floor for us. It takes a lot of pressure off me."The Orange were barely able to overcome Cooney's 2-of-10 performance from beyond the arc Monday in a 57-55 victory at Maryland. Up by 12 with just under 6 minutes left, Syracuse allowed the lead to dwindle to a point before hanging on in its latest close contest. Its previous five games have been decided by a total of 14 points."We're in a lot of these games," Boeheim said. "For the most part we've made good plays at the end of them, and that's why we are where we are. We're not overpowering too many people, I can promise you that."While the star power will be on the visiting bench, the Cavaliers have kept winning by relying on everyone.Brogdon (14.8 ppg) and Joe Harris (11.8) lead them in scoring, but Akil Mitchell, sixth man Justin Anderson, Anthony Gill, London Perrantes and Mike Tobey have all warranted mention as keys in victories this season, along with the ever-present defense."I think they're the best team in the league," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said after Virginia scored 25 consecutive points in a 70-49 rout of the Fighting Irish a week ago. Notre Dame lost 61-55 at Syracuse earlier in the season."More than any team in the league, they really know who they are on both ends of the floor," Brey said.More than one coach has praised Harris, an All-ACC first team selection last season, for welcoming a reduced role, at least statistically, this season. His scoring average in ACC play is down 6.5 points over what it was last season, but he said getting to his final home game with stakes this high was the goal all along.Harris and Mitchell are the only remaining players on the roster from Bennett's first recruiting class of six players."It is a huge matchup, but I think if you look at it from a greater perspective, this is what we wanted when we got here," Harris said. "This is something that, if we could have looked ahead when we first got here and said, 'our fourth year, our last game is going to be for an ACC championship against a top-5 team,' we would definitely take that and would be excited about that."Syracuse has won three of four all-time meetings with Virginia, taking the latest one 73-70 at home Nov. 28, 2008. The Orange won 70-68 in their only visit to Charlottesville on Dec. 5, 2007.
|Avg Points Allowed||59.5||55.3|
|» Mar 1, 2014||@UVA 75, SYR 56||Recap|
There has been talk about the unbalanced schedule in the ACC this season playing a part in Virginia winning the regular-season conference title. But against each other, Virginia has the best record against the other teams in the top 4 in the ACC this season.[+]
Best Win Pct vs Top 4 Teams in ACC - This Season
Virginia averaged 132.0 points per 100 possessions Saturday, the highest offensive efficiency allowed by Syracuse in the last three seasons. Virginia's 13 offensive rebounds led to 21 second-chance points, its second-most this season (22 vs Liberty on Nov. 23) and the second-most allowed by Syracuse this season (allowed 22 to Duke on Feb. 1).[+]
Virginia's case for a No. 1 seed and/or Final Four contender - Best BPI since Jan. 1 - Leads country in scoring defense (54.8 PPG) - 16-1 in last 17 games - Won ACC outright title for 1st time since 1980-81 - 2-1 vs ACC top 4 (wins vs Syracuse & North Carolina) - 7-4 vs BPI top 50, 12-5 vs BPI top 100 - No losses outside BPI top 60
Virginia is 16-1 in ACC play, tied for the most ACC wins in a season.[+]
Most ACC Wins in a Season - All-Time
Virginia scored 20 of its 27 first-half points in the paint, attempting 68% of its first-half shots in the painted area. When Syracuse clogged the paint in the second half, the Cavaliers adjusted by making 7-of-11 3-pointers.[+]
Virginia Shooting - Saturday vs Syracuse
Syracuse shot 24.2% from outside the paint Saturday, and has shot under 25% on such attempts in each of its three losses this season. The Orange made 3-of-17 shots from outside the paint in the second half against Virginia, missing its final 13 such shots.
ESPN Stats & Information