The glow of the Champion’s Classic has come and gone, but college hoops still had some entertainment in store for its follow-up act on the season’s second night.
Here’s what you need to know from Wednesday:
Virginia remains Virginia; Syracuse matches Cole Anthony’s scoring output
De’Andre Hunter is gone. Ty Jerome, too. Same with Kyle Guy.
Those are some serious departures, although the national championship trophy that now lives in Charlottesville seems like a fair trade. Still, given those losses, you wouldn’t fault Virginia if it took awhile for the Cavaliers to find themselves early this season.
Not surprisingly, the Cavs aren’t going to need a lot of self-discovery.
Tony Bennett’s team did what Tony Bennett’s program does, absolutely stifling Syracuse in a 48-34 victory.
Yes, Syracuse scored 34 points. In a regulation 40-minute game. Of basketball. In the ACC.
Which isn’t ideal.
Given that it was Virginia playing defense and slowing the pace, though, it’s at least understandable. Even if it’s unconscionable, ya know?
The Orange shot 13 of 55 from the field and 5 of 29 from 3. That’s 23.6 and 17.2 percent, respectively. They scored as many points as Cole Anthony in the freshman’s North Carolina debut. Usually, you want to outscore a freshman guard as a team. So Syracuse has some things to work on.
As for Virginia, its offense wasn’t exactly picture of efficiency. The Cavs shot 40 percent from the floor and a nasty 4 of 24 (16.7 percent) from 3. Given the new faces in new roles, it might take awhile before they get squared away on that end of the floor.
But defensively, Bennett has proven time and again that whoever is on the roster, his teams will defend. Not only defend, but defend as well as anyone in the country. This year doesn’t look any different. And just like years past, that makes Virginia a contender. Last season’s departures and tonight’s offensive ugliness notwithstanding.
Buckeyes outlast Cincy
It’s not Cincinnati-Xavier, but Cincy-Ohio State provides a nice little intrastate matchup to begin a season for the second-consecutive year. And for the second-straight season, the Buckeyes prevailed.
Ohio State outscored Cincinnati by 15 in the second half to claim a 64-56 victory over the Bearcats in Columbus.
It’s a nice win for the Buckeyes against Cincinnati, which will be competing for an AAC title this winter, with what is likely going to be a nice resume-booster come March.
Kyle Young was 6 of 7 from the floor for a team-best 14 points while adding 13 rebounds for the Buckeyes, who also got eight points and 11 rebounds from Kaleb Wesson.
Jarron Cumberland and Keith Williams both had 13 points for John Brannen in his debut on the sideline for the Bearcats.
Zeke Nnaji goes for 20 in Arizona debut
Nico Mannion, a top-10 recruit, was the prize of Sean Miller’s 2019 recruiting class, but it was another freshman who starred for the Wildcats in their 91-52 thrashing of Northern Arizona.
Zeke Nnaji, a 6-foot-10 four-star prospect from Minnesota, was 9 of 12 from the floor for 20 points in his Tucson debut.
Mannion, meanwhile, went 2 of 6 from the floor to finish with nine points along with four assists. Josh Green, another top-50 freshman in the class, joined Mannion and Nnaji in the starting lineup and finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Miller might not have the best freshmen core in the country, but it looks like there’s a nice foundation of talent there.