Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter laughed at half court leading Syracuse by 20. Five minutes remained in the game and just 15 minutes earlier they trailed. They met resistance inside all game, turned the ball over eight times in the first 20 minutes, but Guy didn’t have to step foot inside the arc.
Guy shot 8-for-10, all from three, in about as overwhelming of a shooting display as a team can muster. Virginia hit 18 of its 27 field goals from three, shooting 75 percent outside and demolishing the Syracuse Orange 45-19 in the second half. The No. 2 Cavaliers, the ACC’s top shooting team, won 79-53 as the third top-10 team in a row to trail the Orange at halftime and win handily.
Paschal Chukwu stole an early pass, cut off a drive by Ty Jerome and finished two free throws following his roll to the rim. Frank Howard joined in with a three-pointer to secure an early Orange lead, before Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome hit threes in succession for the Cavaliers. Hughes cut off a pass attempt by Jerome on the next possession, marking an active start for SU defensively ahead 7-6.
Syracuse held that lead into the second timeout, withstanding a flagrant one call on Oshae Brissett that Jerome and Guy turned into four Virginia points with a free throw and three. Elijah Hughes turned the run back, hitting all three free throws after getting fouled in the corner by Guy and running in transition for a three-pointer after Marek Dolezaj cut off another Jerome pass.
Virginia turned it over to nearly their average per game, nine, with eight in the first half. 8-for-12 three-point shooting made up for those mistakes. De’Andre Hunter got on the board with one midway through the first, then Jerome added another in a 6-for-8 start for the Cavs from three.
Syracuse commanded the game though, Chukwu finishing three shots inside and Buddy Boeheim jumping off the bench to hit three straight three-pointers. After Guy put Virginia up 24-22 with a deep three on the left wing, Tyus Battle escaped his 0-for-4 start with a layup to tie the game. Dolezaj took a charge on Braxton Key, setting up two consecutive threes from Boeheim and a 31-25 lead -- the Orange’s largest of the first half.
Hunter responded quickly with a jumper through Chukwu’s foul. He hit the free throw, then two more on the next possession to spark an 8-0 Virginia run. Howard, with the shot clock running down past five seconds, bailed Syracuse out of their lull and the possession with a three above the arc and the Orange escaped to halftime with a 34-32 lead.
Much like North Carolina and Duke before them, Virginia flexed its defensive muscle five minutes into the second half, strangling the Orange’s offense. Brissett scored three early points with a jumper and offensive rebound, but Jerome and Hunter continued Virginia’s scorching three-point success. Hunter’s response to Battle’s corner three pushed the Cavs up to 11-for-16 from outside.
Syracuse didn’t score for five minutes following the make by Battle, on an 0-of-6 swoon, while Guy added another three to cap an 11-0 Virginia run. The Cavs led 53-43 when Boeheim cut the run off with a three in the right corner.
Shot after shot from beyond the arc fell for the Cavs, while Battle attacked Hunter directly and got blocked, pumping his fist as he fell to 3-for-14 from the field. Guy splashed a three on the left side of the zone, then Hunter added another on the right on a cross-court pass from Jerome. Virginia led 61-46, shooting only 6-for-19 inside the arc at that point.
They didn’t need any of them. Guy splashed to more threes to stretch his clinic to 8-for-10, all beyond the arc. Hunter hit another to push Virginia to 18-of-24 outside and a finish by Diakite all but ended the Orange down 74-49. Virginia’s onslaught had reached 42-15 in the second half, with Syracuse only converting two shots from the field over a 12-minute stretch.
Syracuse moves on to its regular-season finale on Saturday at 12 p.m. at Clemson, one last scheduled chance at a quadrant one win.