De’Andre Hunter came off the bench to score a game-high 15 points and Kyle Guy added 14 as No. 2 Virginia remained undefeated in Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 59-44 victory over Syracuse on Saturday before the largest college basketball crowd of the season, 27,083 fans at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
Virginia (22-1) is 11-0 in the ACC and holds a three-game lead over second-place Clemson (8-3). It rates as the Cavaliers’ best ACC start since they went 12-0 in 1980-81, and their 14-game winning streak is their longest since they went 19-0 to start the 2014-15 season.
The Cavaliers entered the game ranked first in the nation in scoring defense at 52.7 points per game, and their famed Pack-Line Defense held Syracuse to a season-low 44 points on 33.3 percent shooting from the floor (17-for-51) and 19 percent from 3-point range (4-for-21). Virginia has not allowed more than 63 points in any of its 11 ACC games.
Hunter, who was 5-for-6 shooting, and Mamadi Diakite (12 points) combined for 27 points as the Cavaliers’ bench outscored the Syracuse bench 27-0. Hunter, a freshman, also scored 15 points in Virginia’s 68-61 win over Syracuse Jan. 10 at Virginia.
Tyus Battle scored 15 points and Frank Howard added 11 for Syracuse, which fell to 15-8 and 4-6 in the ACC. The Orange were ranked fourth in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (37.7), but allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 48.9 percent (23-for-47), including 7-for-23 from 3-point range.
Howard’s dunk on a fast break pulled Syracuse within 36-27 five minutes into the second half. But Diakite’s baseline jumper as the shot clock expired and Guy’s long 3-pointer from the wing sparked a 12-0 run that increased the Cavaliers’ advantage to 48-27 with about nine minutes left in the game. Virginia held Syracuse without a field goal for about 7 1/2 minutes during that stretch.
With Battle scoring inside and out, the Orange went on a 12-4 tear to slice their deficit to 52-39 with five minutes remaining. But Hunter answered with a 3-point play to boost the Cavaliers’ lead back to 55-39.
Hunter entered the game with 15:30 remaining in the first half and scored Virginia’s next six points. He later sank a 3-pointer from the wing and drained a 12-foot jumper during an 18-5 run that boosted the Cavaliers’ lead to 31-18.
—Field Level Media