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A brief history of Syracuse comebacks over Virginia

First half leads aren’t safe.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

What started as an amazing comeback in the NCAA Tournament at one point turned itself into a streak that scared the hell out of Virginia Cavaliers fans.

From March 2016 through the most recent lacrosse season, the Syracuse Orange made a habit of erasing big first half leads from the Hoos. The trail of upsets, for those that need a refresher:

Syracuse v Virginia Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Men’s basketball: Syracuse 68, Virginia 62

The heavily favored 1-seed Virginia was up 16 in the first half, and appeared to be cruising toward a Final Four bid — that is, if the “smell my finger” gestures and shrug faces had anything to say about it. That hubris gave way to the press, and Malachi Richardson having one of the Orange’s most memorable NCAA Tournament shooting days. A comeback trend (and SU’s own Final Four trip) was born.

Women’s basketball: Syracuse 54, Virginia 49

SU wiped out a 23-6 lead over the course of an early January contest last year, holding UVA to just 20 points in the second half while also battling through a miserable shooting performance (just over 20 percent on the day). A trend was suddenly emerging...

Men’s basketball: Syracuse 66, Virginia 62

Playing for Jim Boeheim’s 1,000th* win, Syracuse was down once again to the Hoos at the half -- 12 points this time. However, the press and some hot shooting returned with a fury right in the early minutes of the second. A 19-2 run put the Orange up for good and they celebrated the Hall of Fame coach’s landmark victory with another comeback over Virginia.

Men’s lacrosse: Syracuse 14, Virginia 13

Up 8-4 at the half, then 10-5 early in the third period, UVA looked ready to coast to a win over Syracuse. But a four-goal outburst late in the third closed the gap to one, and Sergio Salcido shut the door on Virginia with a game-winner very late in the fourth. The trend grew beyond the basketball court.

Women’s lacrosse: Syracuse 16, Virginia 15

The then-unbeaten Orange found themselves down 11-2 in the first half, but two late goals would prove critical to sparking another second half push against Virginia. SU scored five straight coming out of the break, cutting the lead to two. Later, they’d score six of the final seven goals and play some staunch defense to lock up the win.


Now ever since, we haven’t had the same luck, mind you. Orange field hockey lost to UVA in the fall, while other sports played through “whatever” results against Virginia as well. This past week, SU women’s basketball actually fell to the Hoos, a 68-63 upset on the road.

Tonight will be the next test. Can this streak be reignited -- or in the case of just the men’s basketball team, be continued? At this point, the psychological harm would be a fun side effect for what would make for a signature (and much-needed Orange victory) over Virginia in Charlottesville.