A hor­ri­ble, fa­mil­iar feel­ing: Cava­liers col­lapse against Orange


The Washington Post Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - BY MATT SCHNEIDMAN sports@wash­post.com

syra­cuse, n.y. — Lon­don Per­rantes walked slowly down the court with less than a minute re­main­ing Satur­day, wip­ing his lip with the fringe of his jer­sey and star­ing deep into the Car­rier Dome crowd.

He knew this feel­ing all too well: Syra­cuse on the verge of an up­set, a dou­ble-digit half­time lead hav­ing van­ished.

Last year, top-seeded Vir­ginia lost its grip on a 14-point half­time ad­van­tage in the NCAA tour­na­ment’s Mid­west Re­gion fi­nal, and 10th-seeded Syra­cuse ad­vanced to the Fi­nal Four. More than 10 months later, the script was nearly iden­ti­cal. The No. 9 Cava­liers blew a 12-point half­time cush­ion, fall­ing to the un­ranked Orange, 66-62, for Syra­cuse Coach Jim Boe­heim’s un­of­fi­cial 1,000th win.

“This game wasn’t get­ting us to the Fi­nal Four, so I don’t think that there was any­thing that could’ve got­ten me re­venge for that,” Per­rantes said. “. . . Reg­u­lar sea­son is com­pletely dif­fer­ent.”

Even if the stakes of the game weren’t the same, the first half in the Car­rier Dome mir­rored that from United Cen­ter in Chicago last year. Vir­ginia (17-5, 7-3 ACC) caught fire from deep, this time cour­tesy of Kyle Guy’s three three-point­ers from in front of the Syra­cuse bench rather than Per­rantes’s five first-half threes from the 68-62 loss in the tour­na­ment. Syra­cuse (15-9, 7-4), three days re­moved from a 100point erup­tion at North Carolina State, was held to 22 firsthalf points, one more than it scored in the first 20 min­utes in March.

A dif­fer­ent Vir­ginia team emerged from the tun­nel to start the sec­ond half, though, one far more hes­i­tant on of­fense and sus­cep­ti­ble to the same of­fen­sive spurts by the Orange that doomed it the last time. Syra­cuse scored the first 11 points af­ter half­time, and the Cava­liers didn’t score their first points un­til Guy’s base­line floater 7:11 into the half. Syra­cuse an­swered with an 8-0 run to take a 41-36 lead.

“Def­i­nitely lead­ing up to it, we said, ‘Hey, let’s try to learn from last year. You can be go­ing and all of a sud­den . . .’ ” Vir­ginia Coach Tony Ben­nett said. “We talked about just how good they are in spurts. That’s how they play. They’re spurt-ical, es­pe­cially those scor­ers.”

Those scor­ers, Syra­cuse fifthyear se­nior An­drew White and fresh­man Tyus Bat­tle, com­bined for 28 sec­ond-half points. Point guard John Gil­lon, who poured in 43 against N.C. State, and Tyler Ly­don, Syra­cuse’s high­est-touted NBA prospect, com­bined for only 12 points. But that didn’t mat­ter. Vir­ginia’s of­fense was far too dis­ori­ented to crawl out of a hole once Syra­cuse took a lead with 11:56 re­main­ing in the game.

The Cava­liers com­mit­ted seven turnovers in the sec­ond half and 15 to­tal, in­clud­ing sev­eral er­rant passes by Per­rantes into the teeth of Syra­cuse’s zone and a bevy of mis­cues caused be­cause the Orange’s length was sim­ply too much for Vir­ginia to han­dle. The Cava­liers en­tered the game av­er­ag­ing 9.6 turnovers, sec­ond fewest in the na­tion.

“I just think we got a lit­tle hes­i­tant on of­fense,” Guy said. “We weren’t be­ing as ag­gres­sive as we were in the first [half]. Turnovers have been . . . any time we lose, that’s al­ways the case.”

Vir­ginia had an an­swer ev­ery time Syra­cuse tried to pull away, whether it came via a layup by Isa­iah Wilkins or an­other three­p­ointer by Guy, who led the Cava­liers with 14 points. When the fresh­man hit his fourth three of the day, he mo­tioned for the crowd to “shush” be­fore be­ing show­ered with an ex­ple­tive-laden chant about his “man bun.”

The last glim­mer of hope for the visi­tors came on an eight­point spurt by Per­rantes within the fi­nal three min­utes. The se­nior had done lit­tle of note un­til that point, but a jumper and two three-point­ers kept Vir­ginia afloat. In the end, it wasn’t enough; the ACC’s best team at home snatched a win from the con­fer­ence’s best road team.

When the fi­nal buzzer sounded, Syra­cuse fans stormed the court for the sec­ond home game in a row. Vir­ginia moved lethar­gi­cally back down the tun­nel as Boe­heim waved his arms in the air for the 27,553 in at­ten­dance. It was his 899th win at the school, not count­ing the 101 va­cated as part of pre­vi­ous NCAA sanc­tions levied against Syra­cuse.

Un­like in March, the Cava­liers have a chance to bounce back, but it doesn’t get any eas­ier. Vir­ginia will move on to a home game Mon­day against No. 6 Louisville.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.