No. 3 Virginia on roll at home with Orange on tap (Jan 09, 2018)
Currently in the midst of a three-game homestand, No. 3 Virginia sits atop the ACC standings and welcomes Syracuse into John Paul Jones Arena on Tuesday night.
Virginia (14-1, 3-0) has won six games in a row after a narrow 68-61 loss at West Virginia and holds a perfect 10-0 record at home this season.
The Cavaliers are coming off a suffocating 61-49 win over then No. 12 North Carolina on Saturday where they held the Tar Heels to 29.6 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers. The win was the fifth straight for Virginia over North Carolina in Charlottesville.
"Their defense was really good," North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said after his team's loss to Virginia. "I told Tony (Bennett) it's about as good of a defensive game as I've had anybody play against us, and maybe ever."
Syracuse (12-4, 1-2) enters Tuesday night's matchup off a home loss to a Notre Dame squad that was without its two leading scorers in Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell. The Orange have lost two straight conference games after starting the season with an impressive 68-56 win over Virginia Tech.
The last time Syracuse played in John Paul Jones Arena, the Orange fell 73-65 to the Cavaliers two years ago and they have not won in Charlottesville since 2007 when the two teams met as nonconference opponents.
With the Cavaliers playing maybe the best defense that they ever have under Bennett, Syracuse's offensive struggles come at a bad time for head coach Jim Boeheim's squad. The Orange are currently averaging just 70 points per game and they have not scored more than 68 points in their last five games. In two of those games, both loses, Syracuse did not crack 60 points.
"We're just having trouble scoring," Boeheim said after his team's 51-49 loss to Notre Dame. "Our defense has been good all year. It's probably going to continue to be a struggle for us to score."
A bad sign for Syracuse as they run into a Virginia team that has held seven of their 15 opponents to less than 50 points this season. The Cavaliers have not allowed a team to shoot 50 percent or better against them and have held 12 opponents to 43 percent or less.
"I think that the captains take a lot of pride in defending and things like that," Virginia senior forward Isaiah Wilkins said. "I know for a fact that I do, especially coming into this game wanting a win."
Virginia, who has one of the most favorable schedules in the conference, is allowing just 52.5 points per game this season and has gotten offensive production from every position. No player averages 15 points per game but the Cavaliers have seven players averaging at least six points per game.
Syracuse will rely on a trio of players averaging at least 15 points per game. Tyus Battle leads the way at 19.5 while Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett chip in with 15.4 and 15.2 points per game, respectively.