The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team needed a win against the Virginia Cavaliers in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. They almost pulled it of... but the Hoos dashed Syracuse’s hopes at the buzzer via a Reece Beekman three (his only points of the game), and won 72-69.
Buddy Boeheim picked up where he left off by making his first two shots against Virginia. He made a turnaround-two in the lane and 3-pointer to start. A Marek Dolezaj jumper was sandwiched in between as Syracuse jumped out to an early 7-0 lead.
The Hoos scored on the ensuing possession, but Alan Griffin found Quincy Guerrier on a sweet no-look behind the back pass and Syracuse led 9-2 at the first media timeout.
Robert Braswell was first off the bench for Jim Boeheim. Braswell made his impact felt right away as he made his first three. Then he finished a lob. He rebounded and scored and connected his second three to give him 10 first half points. Braswell was 4-4 from the floor in the first half before he picked up his third foul and sat the final four minutes of the half.
Buddy Boeheim continued his hot shooting throughout, but the 2-3 zone waned toward the end of the half. Syracuse led by as much as 11 but Virginia closed the half on a 10-2 run to cut Syracuse’s lead 39-36 at the intermission. Boeheim led Syracuse with 15 points on 3-4 outside shooting at the break.
Stumbling to close out the first half cost Syracuse as Virginia took the lead 42-39 early in the second half. The Orange missed on their first three shots and went into the under-16 timeout down 44-41. Syracuse regrouped and took the lead back on a Buddy 3 as Virginia went cold from deep.
Virginia was ahead 51-49 at the next tv timeout as each team struggled to gain control of the game. There were opportunities for either squad to go on a run but 3-pt shooting was a struggle, especially for the Cavaliers. Quincy Guerrier came alive and carried Syracuse’s offense for this stretch and the game was tied at 54 at the under-8 break. The pace of the game certainly slowed from what we saw in the opening half.
A Marek Dolezaj layup off a Guerrier feed gave the Orange a 56-54 lead but five points from Sam Hauser put Virginia in front and forced a Syracuse timeout. An offensive rebound from Kadary Richmond led to a game-tying 3 from Buddy to knot the game at 59.
The final four minutes turned into Trey Murphy time as he hit back-to-back 3s and added a steal leading to a Hauser bucket and a 67-61 Virginia lead with two minutes to play. Buddy struck once again and a Guerrier dunk made it 67-65 with 1:30 to play. Murphy and Buddy traded free throws and it was 69-67 as Virginia called timeout. Two more free throws from Buddy brought Syracuse to a nice 69-69 tie with 29 seconds to play. And then... well, Beekman’s shot landed as time expired.
Once again Buddy Boeheim led the way with 31 points and Guerrier had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Both Alan Griffin and Joe Girard struggled to a combined 1-12 from the floor. Sam Hauser also stuggled shooting but led Virginia with 21 points with Trey Murphy adding 15 points and Jay Huff with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
So now this gets interesting for the Orange. They failed to beat Virginia and collect a needed top-tier victory. But it’s unlikely a last-second loss to a team like the Hoos really harms them either. Playing a highly competitive against Virginia could help if things get muddy at the back end of the bubble. Though we’re still sweating things out and will have to hope for some results to go our way — especially in the Mountain West.
More on this gut-punch throughout the afternoon.