Fact is: the Orange starters have been playing far too many minutes lately with many playing close to 40 minutes a night because coach Jim Boeheim is scared the offense will struggle, and he may be right, but letting the starters play too much tires them and thus creates shorter shots, so they really do need some rest. Boeheim had two points with three minutes left in the game.
Virginia trailed by eight early in the second half but used a 15-2 run to go ahead 35-30 with 12:03 to play.
Virginia is led by Diakite (12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks per game) and sophomore guard Kihei Clark (9.9 points, 5.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds per game).
Regardless of its offensive shortcomings, Virginia is 17-3 straight up in its last 20 games dating back to last season and 12-1 straight up in its last 13 games at home.
Jay Huff led Virginia with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Virginia shot 31.3 percent from the field and turned the ball over 15 times. But an inability to score is a clear weak point for Virginia headed into this matchup.
Virginia continued to apply pressure as Huff and Clark scored points inside the paint, extending the unanswered run to 12 points.
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Syracuse battled foul trouble for most of the game. Meanwhile, the teams continued to trade points as Hughes sunk his third three-pointer and Huff slammed yet another impressive dunk. Neither team scored in the final 1:20 of regulation, sending it to the extra period tied at 43, but the Orange hit their first four shots of overtime to take command.
Virginia would twice get the margin back to five, but a Boeheim wing and prayer - a 40-footer that he flung in the general direction of the basket after chasing down a loose ball as the shot clock expired - would make it 57-49 Syracuse with 1:19 to go.
"For us to win we have to make those shots", the coach said.
The defending champs did not back down at the sight of adversity and instead took a second half lead of their own after taking Syracuse's best shot. Virginia is now 0-4 when trailing at halftime, and also 0-4 when allowing 60 or more points in a game (the 'Hoos are a flawless 11-0 in all other contests this season). "Learn from it, try to control what you can control and don't hang your head but don't think this is a fluke".
The 18th-ranked Wahoos (11-4, 3-2 ACC) have now lost three of their last five games, and once again a slow start and an overall poor performance from 3-point range, combined with too many costly turnovers, contributed to the eventual outcome. "We have to get better and we have to stick together".