CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - In a battle between the top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 12/11 Virginia topped No. 4/5 Syracuse, 75-56, at the JPJ Arena Saturday. The Orange goes to 26-3 overall and is in second place in the league standings with a 13-3 mark in conference play. The Cavaliers clinched the top seed in the ACC Tournament with the victory, improving to 16-1 in league play.
Senior C.J. Fair and freshman Tyler Ennis scored 13 points apiece to lead the SU offense, while redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney added 13 points. Junior Rakeem Christmas pulled down a team-high seven rebounds for the Orange.
Fair and Ennis led Syracuse (26-3) to an 8-3 lead as both scored four points in the first five minutes of the game. The Cavaliers (25-5) fought back, outscoring SU, 9-0, to take its first lead of the game as they led 12-8 at the 12:38 mark. Anthony Gill had all four of his points during the run. Cooney halted the run with an old fashioned three-point play and Fair's basket in the lane cut the deficit to one at 14-13. Virginia responded with another offensive spurt, outscoring Syracuse, 8-2, to take its largest lead of the first half at 22-15.
The Orange wouldn't go away and ended the half on a 13-4 scoring run to take a 28-27 lead into the locker room at halftime. The run featured three-point baskets by Ennis, Cooney and sophomore Michael Gbinije and was capped when Ennis found junior Rakeem Christmas all alone underneath the basket for a slam dunk.
The teams traded baskets for the first nine minutes of the second half before Virginia recorded seven unanswered points to take a 49-42 lead with 8:48 on the clock. A basket by Christmas briefly halted the run, but the Cavaliers recorded seven of the game's next eight points. Ennis hit two free throws to bring the Orange within nine, 56-47, with 4:56 remaining, but that was as close as Syracuse would get as Virginia continued to extend its lead.
The Orange was 20-for-56 (35.7 percent) from the field, while the Cavaliers was 27-for-54 (50.0 percent). Virginia outrebounded Syracuse, 39-29. Malcolm Brogdon led all scorers with 19 points as four Cavaliers reached double figures in scoring.
The Orange hosts Georgia Tech in its final home game on Tuesday, March 4 at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by 6:45 for a pregame presentation honoring Syracuse's senior class.