4:12 PM ET, March 1, 2014
John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Virginia
No. 12 UVa bests No. 4 Syracuse for 1st outright ACC title in 33 years
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Malcolm Brogdon talked before No. 12 Virginia's final home game about making it a success for seniors Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell and even former walk-on Thomas Rogers, the first building blocks in Tony Bennett's remaking of the Cavaliers.
On Saturday, Brogdon made sure his teammates left happy. He scored 17 of his career-high 19 points in the second half, including eight in a decisive run that sent Virginia on its way to a 75-56 victory against No. 4 Syracuse.
The victory was the 13th in a row for the Cavaliers, and secured their first outright ACC regular-season championship in 33 years.
"Super exciting," the redshirt sophomore said of watching the final seconds tick off the clock with students poised to charge the court despite pleas from the public address announcer that they stay put. "You could do nothing but smile at that point when you beat a good team like that and you're having success like we're having. It's surreal when you think about it."
The last Virginia team to win the ACC outright had sophomore Ralph Sampson in the middle. This one has no players of that stature, but a handful all capable of taking over games with either a critical offensive play, or a defensive stop.
Mitchell added 12 points and nine rebounds, and Mike Tobey and Justin Anderson scored 11 apiece for the Cavaliers (25-5, 16-1 ACC), who won their 13th in a row overall, and their 18th straight at home against ACC competition. Syracuse was only the second ranked team beaten in that home streak, but as has so often been the case this year, it wasn't close at the end.
Mitchell and Tobey were especially crucial early when Harris and Brogdon struggled. Mitchell had eight points and seven rebounds by halftime, and Tobey was more assertive and aggressive inside. He had seven points and four boards at the half.
"I knew this was a big game going in and I have been playing not up to what I feel like I could play up to, so I just came into this game with an aggressive mentality," the 6-foot-11 Tobey said. He finished with eight rebounds, five on offense.
Bennett was able to empty his bench and get Rogers into the game, and the senior put a cap on the day in dramatic fashion, hitting a fallaway 3-pointer from the left corner for the first points in ACC play of his career.
Most ACC Wins
Virginia is 16-1 in ACC play, tied with the 1998-99 Duke Blue Devils for the most ACC wins in a season.
Most ACC Wins in a Season
|--ESPN Stats & Information|
`That was the best moment of the game," Brogdon said. It was Virginia's seventh 3-pointer in 11 second-half tries.
Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair each scored 13 for the Orange (26-3, 13-3), who lost for the third time in four games. Syracuse played much of the game without ailing Jerami Grant because of a sore back, but coach Jim Boeheim said it was no excuse.
"They had a tremendous second half. They proved that they could hit those 3s, and got it going a little bit," Boeheim said. "Everyone knows they are a tremendous defensive team and they are also an impressive 3-point team. They got going in the second half. I have thought that for a couple weeks, that they have been by far the best team."
As it has so often this season, Virginia took command with a second-half spree fed in part by its defense, and in part by a celebrating sell-out crowd, many of whom stood throughout the second half.
"The last time I heard it that loud, I was at a Taylor Swift concert," Bennett said.
Brogdon broke a 42-all tie with two free throws, and then hit a jumper from the foul line. After a turnover by the Orange, London Perrantes hit a deep 3-pointer that gave the Cavaliers a 49-42 lead.
Rakeem Christmas' dunk after a Syracuse timeout quieted the crowd, but only for a minute because Anderson made a 3-pointer from the right side, Brogdon followed an Orange miss with a jumper and then followed another miss with a jumper. The lead was 56-45 with 5:15 remaining and fans sensed that the Cavaliers were in the process of putting away the game.
Ennis, playing with four fouls, hit a pair of free throws to slow the run, but Harris hit a free throw, and then followed a Syracuse miss with a 3-pointer, his first basket in nine tries, causing the crowd to erupt in appreciation for the four-year starter. Harris was removed with 38.9 seconds left to a deafening cheer at Jones Paul Jones Arena.
Virginia had first-half runs of 9-0 and 8-2 in building a 22-15 lead, but a jumper by Fair and Ennis' 3-pointer -- the first of the game -- with 5:14 left in the half sparked 13-2 burst for the Orange.
Cooney, who had missed 22 of his last 27 3-point shots, and Richmond native Michael Gbinije then connected back-to-back from beyond the arc for Syracuse, and Christmas' dunk made it 28-24.
Anderson hit a 3, Virginia's first, with 47 seconds left and it was 28-27 at the half.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - MARCH 01: Darion Atkins #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers takes a shot over C.J. Fair #5 of the...(Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||20-56 (.357)||27-54 (.500)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-22 (.227)||8-16 (.500)|
|FT Made-Attempted||11-14 (.786)||13-19 (.684)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (0/0)||13 (0/0)|
|» Mar 1, 2014||@UVA 75, SYR 56||Recap|
Next 5 Games
ACC Conference Standings
|TEAM||CONF W-L||TOTAL W-L|
|North Carolina State||9-9||21-13|
|#21 North Carolina||13-5||23-9|
|View expanded standings »|
There has been talk about the unbalanced schedule in the ACC this season playing a part in Virginia winning the regular-season conference title. But against each other, Virginia has the best record against the other teams in the top 4 in the ACC this season.[+]
Best Win Pct vs Top 4 Teams in ACC - This Season
Virginia averaged 132.0 points per 100 possessions Saturday, the highest offensive efficiency allowed by Syracuse in the last three seasons. Virginia's 13 offensive rebounds led to 21 second-chance points, its second-most this season (22 vs Liberty on Nov. 23) and the second-most allowed by Syracuse this season (allowed 22 to Duke on Feb. 1).[+]
Virginia's case for a No. 1 seed and/or Final Four contender - Best BPI since Jan. 1 - Leads country in scoring defense (54.8 PPG) - 16-1 in last 17 games - Won ACC outright title for 1st time since 1980-81 - 2-1 vs ACC top 4 (wins vs Syracuse & North Carolina) - 7-4 vs BPI top 50, 12-5 vs BPI top 100 - No losses outside BPI top 60
Virginia is 16-1 in ACC play, tied for the most ACC wins in a season.[+]
Most ACC Wins in a Season - All-Time
Virginia wrapped up sole possession of the ACC regular season title with its win Saturday. That comes on the heels of Miami winning the conference last season. This is only the fifth time in ACC history that neither Duke nor North Carolina was involved in the regular-season championship in back-to-back seasons.[+]
Neither Duke nor UNC Involved in Regular-Season Title - Back-to-Back Seasons in ACC History
Virginia scored 20 of its 27 first-half points in the paint, attempting 68% of its first-half shots in the painted area. When Syracuse clogged the paint in the second half, the Cavaliers adjusted by making 7-of-11 3-pointers.[+]
Virginia Shooting - Saturday vs Syracuse
In the last three games, Virginia has outscored its opponents by 59 points in the second half.
Syracuse shot 24.2% from outside the paint Saturday, and has shot under 25% on such attempts in each of its three losses this season. The Orange made 3-of-17 shots from outside the paint in the second half against Virginia, missing its final 13 such shots.
ESPN Stats & Information