CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Buddy Boeheim scored nine of his 14 points in overtime and Syracuse outlasted No. 18 Virginia 63-55 on Saturday. The Orange scored 20 points in the extra period after netting just 19 in the second half.
Boeheim hit the third of three consecutive 3s for the Orange (9-7, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) and added another when he made a desperate heave from well behind the 3-point line to beat the shot clock late in the extra period.
Elijah Hughes, who scored 18 points, hit the first 3 of the overtime for the Orange and freshman Joe Girard, who scored 19, hit the second.
Jay Huff had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Virginia (11-4, 3-2), which lost back-to-back games for the first time since the 2016-17 season. Mamadi Diakita and Kihei Clark each added 13 points for the Cavaliers.
Neither team scored in the final 1:20 of regulation, but the Orange hit their first four shots of the extra period.
Syracuse: The Orange scored 34 points in their first game against the Cavaliers, which was the season-opener for both teams. Syracuse started Saturday averaging 73.7 points and haven’t scored fewer than 54 in a game since the opener. They had 43 at the end of regulation at Virginia.
Virginia: The Cavaliers’ inconsistency on offense was on full display in the second half when they didn’t score for nearly 3 minutes, then scored 12 consecutive points in about 3 1/2 minutes to take a 35-30 lead. Immediately thereafter, they went 7 minutes without a point.
Syracuse returns home to face Boston College on Wednesday night.
Virginia goes on the road to face No. 10 Florida State on Wednesday night.
BOSTON — Sloppy. Lethargic. Lukewarm effort. Lack of composure.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett knows what the problems were in Tuesday night’s loss to Boston College. Now he’s got to fix them.
“I think the tape’s going to reveal some things that are going to hurt and sting,” Bennett said after unranked BC beat the 18th-ranked Cavaliers 60-53. “But you move on and get ready for the next one.”
Jared Hamilton hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 37 seconds left and added a pair of free throws to clinch it as the Eagles sent the defending national champions to their first Atlantic Coast Conference loss of the season.
Jay Heath scored 17 for BC (9-6, 3-1), which had not beaten Virginia in six tries since 2013. It was BC’s first win over a ranked team since beating No. 11 Florida State last January, and Virginia’s first loss to an unranked ACC opponent in almost two years.
“We’re trying to do the same thing as everyone else,” BC coach Jim Christian said, whose team was a 10 1/2-point underdog coming off a 39-point loss to Duke. “These guys are not surprised they won this game.”
Braxton Key scored 16 points with eight rebounds for the Cavaliers (11-3, 3-1). The 2019 champs, who a year earlier were the first team to lose as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, have now lost two of their last four games.
BC scored eight of the first 10 points in the game and still led 42-30 with 14 minutes left before Virginia scored 10 in a row. With about seven minutes left, Key missed a layup and Mamadi Diakite slapped the rebound out to the top of the key, where Kihei Clark hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 45-all.
Diakite followed with a three-point play to give Virginia its first lead since the opening basket of the game. Clark scored seven points during the 20-3 run, while BC was held to just one basket over almost nine minutes.
BC took a 53-51 lead with just over two minutes left, but Key scored from underneath to tie it. Hamilton scored from in front of the Eagles bench to put them ahead, then leaned back into the embrace of his teammates to celebrate.
“Feeling the support of the guys,” Hamilton said. “That was a great feeling.”
Boston College was without starting point guard Derryck Thornton, who injured his ankle, and Nic Popovic, who has been out a month with a sore back. Forward Steffon Mitchell, who was nauseated and had migraine headaches, needed two IVs to get ready for the game.
Christian said he didn’t know if Mitchell would be available until about five minutes before the tipoff. He played almost 30 minutes and scored 10 points with eight rebounds.
“There’s a beauty to it,” Christian said. “It’s effort, it’s character, it’s determination.”
The Cavaliers committed four fouls in the first 67 seconds, and Diakite went to the bench with two. The biggest man in Virginia’s starting lineup — and the only one listed as a forward, along with four guards — played just 4:36 in the first half, with two points and two rebounds.
After making its first shot, Virginia missed the next seven, and it was still just 8-2 with almost six minutes gone.
“I thought we were kind of lethargic in the beginning of the game,” Clark said. “And once you dig yourself that big of a hole … it’s hard to get back in it.”
Virginia: After climbing as high as No. 5 in the AP Top 25, the Cavaliers have now lost to South Carolina and Boston College in the last two weeks. They have lost as many games as they did all of last season.
Boston College: The Eagles were able to quickly forget about their 88-49 loss to Duke on Dec. 31.
“We had a week to get ready for this game, so we had the benefit of time to get it out of our system,” Christian said. “When you’re playing great teams in this league, if you dwell too much on one game, you’re going to struggle.”
Virginia: Hosts Syracuse on Saturday.
Boston College: Hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Clark, Huff help No. 9 Virginia survive Stony Brook, 56-44
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Kihei Clark scored 14 points and Jay Huff had eight of his 12 during a second-half run as No. 9 Virginia held off Stony Brook 56-44 on Wednesday night.
Huff ended a 5-minute scoreless drought for the Cavaliers (9-1) with a putback dunk with 12:11 remaining and added six more points as Virginia turned a 35-30 lead into a more comfortable 49-38 edge.
Elijah Olaniyi scored 11 to lead Stony Brook (7-6). The Seawolves hurt their cause with 17 turnovers and shot just 37.8% (17-44).
Mamadi Diakite added 13 points while Clark added six assists and five rebounds for Virginia.
Stony Brook: The Seawolves arrived with one of the nation’s best 2-point shooting defenses and could have pulled an upset had they not been so careless with the ball. They outrebounded Virginia 16-14 in the first half and outscored them 14-8 in the paint but had 11 first-half turnovers.
Virginia: Nine days without a game did little to help Virginia’s offensive woes. They scored 14 points in the first 5:43 of the game, then went 6:27 without a point but still had the lead because the Seawolves turned the ball over repeatedly. In the second half, a drought of 5 minutes quieted the crowd as the Cavaliers enjoyed just a five-point lead.
The Seawolves stay on the road, playing at American on Saturday.
The Cavaliers remain at home and face South Carolina on Sunday.
It was sort of inevitable, even if watching it play out was sort of shocking.
Virginia’s defense has been so good, even by its lofty standards, that the Cavaliers navigated the first seven games of their schedule without a loss, despite the fact that 65 points against James Madison was their highwater mark of offense.
So unless you thought Tony Bennett’s team was going to hold opponents to the 30s and 40s every night – which, I suppose, given the track record that’s not an entirely crazy notion – the Cavaliers, with an offense that ranks somewhere below clunky and above disastrous, were bound to have a night where the offense simply didn’t show up and the defense wasn’t able to carry the load.
It happened Wednesday.
Purdue absolutely blasted No. 5 Virginia, 69-40, beating the Cavaliers’ defense while letting their offense self-destruct at Mackey Arena.
It was the type of game, however, that Virginia had to know was possible given how much its offense has failed to produce despite the undefeated record.
Bennett’s teams have never been known for their offense, but that has largely been due to pace. His teams have finished in the top-50 in adjusted offense every year since 2014 with two top-10 finishes, including last year’s national champion ranking No. 2. They’ve just never finished ranked higher than 316th in tempo, and that came in Bennett’s first season in Charlottesville.
This year’s team is both slow and bad offensively.
The Cavs entered Wednesday ranked 291st in effective field goal percentage, 338th in 3-point shooting, 168th in turnover percentage and 273rd in assisted field goals. And yeah, they’re still super slow, ranking at the bottom of the country in tempo.
So a night in which Virginia didn’t break into double digits until after 16 minutes isn’t exactly surprising. It is ugly, though, when tabulated all up, the Cavaliers shot 37.2 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from 3-point range while committing 16 turnovers. Yeah, it was a bad night, but not one that was miles away from what’s been standard for Virginia this year. Nights like this happen when your baseline is as low as Virginia’s has been.
Kihei Clark was 1 of 6 from the floor with three turnovers. Mamadi Diakite was 4 of 10 with four turnovers. When those two can’t produce, Virginia’s offense isn’t likely to either, especially with Braxton Key (wrist) sidelined.
Purdue got to the defense, especially at the 3-point line where they made 13 of 25, but there’s little doubt the Cavaliers are going to have a top-ranked defense. The task for Bennett will be to get the offense to simply serviceable.
That may be a rather significant challenge.
Let’s also not lose sight, though, of what a validating evening this was for Matt Painter’s Boilermakers. Purdue entered the night with three losses and a neutral-floor win again VCU as the best win on its resume, but were still beloved by the computers with a No. 13 KenPom ranking.
To totally dominate Virginia – whatever its offensive shortcomings – on both ends of the floor is a nice piece of evidence that this group is going to be pretty good.
The Boilermakers got 20 points from Sasha Stefanovic, 16 from Jahaad Proctor and 11 from Matt Haarms. They get credit for making Virginia’s offense as ineffective as it was, especially early.
If Purdue is as good as it was against Virginia and the computers believe, the Big Ten is going to be a monster. We already know about Michigan State, Maryland and Ohio State, but with Michigan and Purdue really emerging in the last week – not to mention undefeated Indiana, 8-1 Penn State and an interesting 6-2 Iowa team – the league is staking early claim to being the best in the country.
Three Things to Know: Syracuse scores 34; Buckeyes top Bearcats; Arizona gets promising freshman performance
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?
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.
As the NBA game gets smaller and quicker and more spread out, the college game can still be beaten with big guys.
Just two years ago, in between Villanova’s two national titles, was a championship game played between a Gonzaga team built around their big guys and a North Carolina team built around their big guys.
Hell, I think you can make the argument that Kansas center Udoka Azubuike is one of the five most valuable players in college basketball, even if his potential as a pro is limited.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the best frontcourts in college hoops.
1. KANSAS (Udoka Azubuike, Mitch Lightfoot, Silvio De Sousa, David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna)
The Jayhawks have perhaps the best traditional big men in college hoops in Udoka Azubuike, who shot 77 percent from the floor in his last (and only) healthy season, but it’s unclear just exactly how this frontcourt will work as a whole. Silvio De Sousa is probably the most talented of this group with David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot the most experienced. None of those three, though, have shown the ability to step out on the perimeter to help create the space that will be critical for Azubuike to operate. Lightfoot is actually largely expected to redshirt. That leaves freshmen Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna, a couple of four-star recruits.
What Bill Self does with this situation could very well determine Kansas’ ceiling. Frankly, it won’t be at all surprising if we see Self try doses of Marcus Garrett, Isaiah Moss and Ochai Agbaji at the four to alleviate the spacing concerns.
2. DUKE (Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Javin DeLaurier, Jack White)
Coach K’s use of his frontcourt last year was one of the more scrutinized tactical decisions, with Zion Williamson, a singular force in the sport, splitting his time between power forward and center, when more time at the five probably would have unlocked a little more firepower for the Blue Devils. That won’t be the case this year with Duke’s roster flipping over, but how its frontcourt performs will go a long way in determining if it can get where last year’s team didn’t – the Final Four.
Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt are both five-star recruits and potential one-and-done lottery picks as top-15 prospects. The pair should, well, pair well with Carey at the five and Hurt stretching the floor at the four. Javin DeLaurier got a lot of run for the Blue Devils last year, and will help provide experience and depth up front.
Just how good Penny Hardaway’s frontcourt is will go a long way in determining if the Tigers are as good as their recruiting class.
It starts with James Wiseman, the 7-foot-1 top-rated freshman and potential top-NBA draft pick come June. If he’s All-American good, then that sets Memphis up for success more than anything else. There’s that pesky ankle injury that’s kept him sidelined in the preseason, which is concerning but not cause for a full panic now.
It’s not the only thing, though. Precious Achiuwa was the other five-star Hardaway collected in his No. 1 recruiting class, which also included Isaiah Maurice, D.J. Jeffries and Malcolm Dandridge.
4. GONZAGA (Killian Tillie, Filip Petrusev, Drew Timme, Pavel Zakharov)
Killian Tillie is one of the more intriguing forwards in the country. People have been raving about his talent for years, but he’s been stuck behind great college players and future pros while also dealing with injuries. He even had knee surgery this offseason that has his immediate availability currently in question. If he’s healthy, the deck has been cleared in Spokane for him to be featured.
Six-foot-11 Filip Petrusev played in 32 games last year for the ‘Zags but wasn’t a huge piece of the rotation. He did have a big summer playing for Serbia at the FIBA U19s, putting up nearly 20 points a game and shooting 66 percent from the floor. He and Tillie could make for a dynamic duo.
Coach Mark Few also has some highly-rated freshmen he can mix in with Drew Timme and Pavel Zakharov, but they did get dinged when Oumar Ballo was forced to redshirt..
5. WASHINGTON (Jaden McDaniels, Isaiah Stewart, Naz Carter, Hamier Wright, Sam Timmins)
Memphis’ recruiting deservedly got a lot of love this summer, but Mike Hopkins got the job done, too. Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels are both top-10 recruits that will immediately make the Huskies’ frontcourt formidable. Both are 6-foot-9, but Stewart weighs in at 245 pounds and McDaniels 185. Nahziah Carter averaged 8.1 points and 2.4 rebounds while Hameir right played nearly 18 minutes per game. Sam Timmins played sparingly, but shot 62 percent.
6. LOUISVILLE (Jordan Nwora, Steve Enoch, Malik Wiliams, Aidan Igiehon, Jaelyn Withers)
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Nwora blossomed into an All-American candidate last year, averaging 17 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 37.4 percent from the floor. He’s an ACC player of the year frontrunner, and the cornerstone to both the Cardinals’ frontcourt and their Final Four aspirations.
Steve Enoch was effective both inside and out last season while Malik Williams is a top-level shotblocker. Aidan Igiehon is a four-star, top-75 recruit while Jaelyn Withers is a top-150 prospect from 2019.
7. MISSISSIPPI STATE (Reggie Perry, Abdul Ado, Elias King, Robert Woodard II, Prince Oduro, KeyShawn Feazell, E.J. Datcher, Quinten Post)
Reggie Perry is a first-team all-SEC pick after he averaged 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds last season while Abdul Ado is back after shooting 61.4 percent from the floor and blocking 1.8 shots per game last season. Robert Woodard played 17 minutes per game last year while Prince Oduro is eligible after a promising freshman season for Siena.
Bruno Fernando is gone, but Jalen Smith was nearly as productive as him last season as a freshman. The 6-foot-10 Smith blocked 12.5 percent of opponent shots while on the floor while shooting 56.2 percent from 2-point range. He shot just 26.8 percent from distance, but hoisted 71 attempts, at least an indication he could potentially be a floor-spacer. The Terps are also adding twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, the former a top-75 recruit and the later a three-star prospect. Chol Marial is a 7-foot-2 freshman that could contribute if he gets healthy.
9. BAYLOR (Tristan Clark, Mark Vital, Freddie Gillispie, Flo Thamba)
Tristan Clark was on his way to first-team all-Big 12 honors last year before his knee injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season in January. He’s back this year, and he’ll anchor one of the best frontcourts in the country. Mark Vital, Freddie Gillispie and Flo Thamba all were contributors last season, and should be more effective with Clark by their side this season.
10. MICHIGAN STATE (Xavier Tillman, Marcus Bingham, Thomas Kithier, Malik Hall, Joey Hauser*)
Nick Ward and Kenny Goins are gone, but Xavier Tillman returns after a productive sophomore campaign that has him blossom on both ends of the floor, albeit not his 3-point shooting. Marcus Bingham and Thomas Kithier will be in line for more minutes after being seldomly used as freshmen while Malik Hall is a top-75 recruit.
The wildcard here is Joey Hauser. The Marquette transfer has already seen his request for an immediate-eligibility waiver denied by the NCAA, but Michigan State has appealed. If the NCAA reverses course, the Spartans’ frontcourt will suddenly look much more formidable.
The Florida frontcourt got a massive boost when the 6-foot-10 Kerry Blackshear decided to grad-transfer over this past offseason. Blackshear averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Hokies last season while also shooting 50.8 percent from the field. He’ll join Keyontae Johnson, who put up 8 and 6 last year, and Gorjok Gak, a 6-foot-11 center who missed last season with injury.
12. VIRGINIA (Jay Huff, Mamadi Diakite, Braxton Key)
The national champs lost a lot from last year’s team, but their frontcourt remains somewhat intact, although De’Andre Hunter is a major loss, no doubt. Getting Mamdi Diakite, Braxton Key and Jay Huff all to return is a help, though.
Diakite averaged 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 22 minutes per game while blocking more than 10 percent of opponent shots while he was on the floor. Braxton Key and Jay Huff were smaller contributors last year, but still important ones. They’ll help Tony Bennett bridge the gap to the post-title era.
Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson are both gone, but Garrison Brooks is back from his junior season and five-star center Armando Bacot comes into the fold. So, too, is William & Mary graduate transfer Justin Pierce, a third-team all-CAA honoree who averaged 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game last season as a junior.
14. UTAH STATE (Neemias Queta, Justin Bean, Diogo Brito, Kuba Karwowski, Roche Grootfaam)
Neemias Queta, a 7-foot sophomore, averaged 11.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in his rookie campaign while shooting 61.4 percent, putting him among the country’s most productive centers. Justin Bean saw more time late in the season and was productive against MWC competition. Diogo Brito is a floor-spacer when he’s at the four. Kuba Karnowski and Roche Grootfaam are a pair of junior college transfers that could contribute.
Matt Painter and the Boilermakers have made a habit of having one of the nation’s best frontcourts, and that won’t be any different this year. Matt Haarms will anchor the group after the 7-foot-3 center averaged 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 63.2 percent from the floor. Two freshmen that saw time last year – 6-foot-9 forwards Aaron Wheeler and Trevion Williams – will step into bigger roles up front, too.