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No. 2 Virginia extends winning streak, sweeps season series against Syracuse

The Hoos keep rolling.

Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

In one of its most sterling defensive performances of an already impressive season, the Virginia Cavaliers cruised to a 59-44 road win against the Syracuse Orange on Saturday afternoon.

Kyle Guy knocked down a three from the left corner less than 15 seconds in, and after a Syracuse bucket, Ty Jerome found Jack Salt in the low post, who then slammed it down to make it 5-2.

The two teams exchanged buckets for the first 10 or so minutes of the game; it was tied at 13 with 10:19 left until the break. Redshirt freshman guard DeAndre Hunter quickly scored six points in his first five minutes off the bench.

Virginia (22-1, 11-0 ACC) then went on a tear the rest of the first half, behind five more points from Hunter and an 18-8 scoring run that featured a 4-7 three-point shooting performance in a venue whose sight lines are notoriously unfriendly to jump-shooting teams. The Hoos led 31-21 at the break after consistently beating the Syracuse zone—UVA had 10 assists on 12 made baskets in the first period.

Syracuse (15-8, 4-6 ACC) reverted to the press early in the second half. On their first such attempt, UVA was able to move the ball into the front court to Guy, who immediately lobbed it to Jack Salt on the alley-oop for the dunk.

Virginia kept slicing apart the Syracuse zone throughout the second half, and pushed its lead to 52-34 with 6:11 left. The Orange responded with a 5-0 run before De’Andre Hunter (team-high 15 points) sliced through the lane for an old-fashioned three-point play to extend the lead back to 16, and that effectively sealed the deal. An 11-point margin at 2:48 was as close as Syracuse would get for the remainder of the game.

With the win, the Cavaliers extended their winning streak to 14 games dating back to mid-December. It’s now the fifth-longest streak in school history, just behind the 15-game streak that the 1981-82 team accomplished. It’s the second-best ACC start in team history, behind the 12-0 start in 1980-81.

Virginia had 27 bench points while holding the Orange’s reserves scoreless, and it was the lowest point total Syracuse had scored in the 37-plus-year history of the Carrier Dome.

Isaiah Wilkins had four blocks to move into a tie for third place in career blocks at the school with 130. He needs 27 more for his career to match Ralph Sampson’s single-season record, set in his freshman season (157), and is just 332 blocks behind Sampson for the career Virginia record.

Up next, UVA will travel to Tallahassee on Wednesday for a crucial matchup against Florida State in an arena where they’ve won just once (2014) in their last 12 trips since 2002.