In front of an amped-crowd at John Paul Jones Arena, Tony Bennett became the winningest head coach in University of Virginia men’s basketball history.
No. 11 UVA never trailed Saturday night in a 73-66 win over ACC rival Syracuse. The Cavaliers (11-3, 3-2) haven’t always shot well from the perimeter this season, but they were 12 of 26 from 3-point range against the Orange (10-6, 3-2).
Senior guard Armaan Franklin and freshman guard Isaac McKneely each made four treys for the Wahoos, who also received big contributions from Kihei Clark, Kadin Shedrick and Reece Beekman.
Clark, a 5-foot-10 fifth-year senior, had 11 of Virginia’s 22 assists. Shedrick, a 6-foot-11 redshirt junior, totaled 11 points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals, and Beekman, a 6-foot-3 junior, finished with 13 points, seven assists and two steals.
Beekman was 5 of 6 from the line in the final 1:18 to help keep Syracuse at bay.
Bennett is in his 14th season at UVA, where his record is 327-120. Terry Holland, whose wife, Ann, was seated courtside at JPJ, went 326-173 in 16 seasons with the Cavaliers.
HOW IT HAPPENED
UVA came out hot, hitting 7 of its first 11 shots from 3-point range, including three each by Franklin and McKneely. With 2:30 left in the first half, the Hoos led 35-18 and appeared to be in control, but Syracuse closed the half on an 8-0 to cut its deficit to nine points.
The Cavaliers regained control after intermission. Virginia scored the first 12 points of the second half to take a 47-26 lead. McKneely’s fourth trey put the Cavaliers up 57-35 with 11:34 remaining, and the outcome seemed all but settled. But the Orange scored the game’s next 13 points. Finally, with 4:02 left, Shedrick ended UVA’s scoring drought, hitting two free throws to make it 59-48.
A 3-pionter by Chris Bell cut Virginia’s lead to seven with 37.4 seconds to play, but the Cuse got no closer, and the celebration at JPJ soon began.
In an ACC game to air on ESPN, UVA hosts North Carolina (11-5, 3-2) at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
UNC has won two straight over Virginia, which had won the previous seven games in the series. The Tar Heels’ victory over UVA last January was their first since Feb. 28, 2017. They met again in last year’s ACC tournament, and Carolina again won handily.
North Carolina, which is in its second season under head coach Hubert Davis, defeated Notre Dame 81-64 in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon.