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Boeheim brothers aren’t enough to lift Syracuse past Virginia

Jimmy Boeheim (White, 0) and Buddy Boeheim (White, 35) celebrate after Jimmy Boeheim’s dunk against Virginia.
Jimmy Boeheim (White, 0) and Buddy Boeheim (White, 35) celebrate after Jimmy Boeheim’s dunk against Virginia.

Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim did their part, but they were the only ones who could say that. WAER’s Francesco Simone explains how Syracuse’s supporting cast ruined a sparkling performance of the Boeheim Show against Virginia.

Syracuse men’s basketball played a game against Virginia on Saturday night. A game the Orange lost 74-69. Most of the team must not have gotten the memo.

The Boeheim brothers sure did. After a return to form during SU’s two game Ivy League slate earlier in the week, Buddy Boeheim looked every bit of the all-ACC performer he was predicted to be before the season. Syracuse’s talisman reminded Orange fans of last year’s tournament run with 27 points while shooting 45% from beyond the arc.

His brother Jimmy was an effective Robin. The forward added 18 points of his own, along with nine rebounds, four steals, and one electrifying dunk over Virginia’s Armaan Franklin and Taine Murray. Jimmy’s performance was not perfect, however, as he missed six of his eight free throw attempts. Boeheim came into the game as a 64% shooter from the line this season.

Jesse Edwards was serviceable, but far from spectacular with nine points and four offensive rebounds. However, as is too often the case with the Dutchman, foul trouble limited his participation in the latter part of the second half as Virginia opened up a lead.

Joe Girard was invisible. The guard, who came into the game sixth in the conference in three-point percentage, made just one on four attempts. Those were the only points that he scored. Girard also only managed one assist.

“Joe’s had two games now where he just hasn’t been in the game and we need him,” Head Coach Jim Boeheim said, referencing Girard’s sluggish performance against Cornell on Wednesday where he only scored five points on seven shots.

Joe Girard dribbles past half court in Syracuse men’s basketball’s loss to Virginia.
Joe Girard dribbles past half court in Syracuse men’s basketball’s loss to Virginia.

Cole Swider, on the other hand, was all too visible. The forward had just eight points after putting up 21 against the Big Red, his most in a Syracuse uniform. It’s safe to say the hot hand did not translate to Saturday. Swider made just three of his 12 field goal attempts and two of eight tries from three, including missing a potential game-tying triple with less than a minute left.

“We’re getting the looks. I think we got a lot of good looks. Cole got looks that he makes usually…When I drew two a couple times they picked it, but a couple times I was able to kick it out for an open shot,” Buddy Boeheim said.

Cole Swider takes a three pointer against Virginia.
Cole Swider takes a three pointer against Virginia.

The bench had its customary meager contribution. Symir Torrence had just two points and two assists. Benny Williams also had two points, but did contribute a respectable four rebounds, although that didn’t help on the offensive end as they all came on defense. Frank Anselem didn’t score at all, nor did he do anything else to contribute offensively.

“With the attention that Buddy’s getting, these other guys basically played four-on-three, and we couldn’t score,” Jim Boeheim said.

Virginia’s defense is notoriously stingy. The Cavaliers consistently rank at or near the top of not just the ACC, but all of Division I in opponent points per game. The same is true this year, with Tony Bennett’s team giving up just 56 points per game going into Saturday. That ranked first in the conference and in the top 10 in the country.

“Scoring 69 points against Virginia I think is pretty good,” Buddy Boeheim said.

While the Cavaliers surface numbers may explain away some of Syracuse’s offensive struggles, they don’t tell the full story. Virginia’s low points per game allowed total is due in large part to the way it plays. The Cavaliers are notorious for their slow pace, which takes offensive possessions away from their opponents. Whereas in terms of how good they are at actually playing defense, the picture is not quite as pretty. According to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, Virginia went in ranked just 55th nationally. Not terrible, but far from overwhelming.

Syracuse will not have much time to lick its wounds. SU must turn the page to another ACC foe, as the Orange get into the swing of conference play. Syracuse travels to Coral Gables to take on Jim Boeheim look-a-like Jim Larranaga and his Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday. As always, WAER will have full coverage starting with GZA Countdown to Tipoff at 7:30 p.m. Game time is set for 8:00.