like Virginia Cavaliers Get a victory on the road vs Syracuse orange With a final score of 67-62, UVA advanced to 17-3 on the season and 9-2 in ACC play. With the win, we have five takeaways.
Jayden Gardner wins the game for UVA in the last minute
While his play throughout the game was stellar, Jaden Gardner’s two touchdown plays in the last minute essentially won this game for the Wahoos. First, facing Jesse Edwards at the post with just a minute left, Gardner guarded Edwards head-on, unconcerned with a five-inch height difference, and effectively shuffled his feet to match Edwards’ drive to his left, drawing the charge as big Syracuse began. call guy. With this defensive stance and even offense, Gardner erred by taking Edwards out of contention and gave the Cavaliers a great opportunity to put the game on the ice with a 64-62 lead with 1:00 left.
Then, on possession, with the shot clock winding down and no one being able to create space inside Syracuse’s territory, Gardner jumped to the middle of the defense, picked up the ball, bumped Munir Hema into the 6’11” box, stride wide, and hit a lackluster mid-range jump shot to set Virginia four points and possession with 33 seconds remaining.
As mentioned, Gardner’s stellar performance surpassed only those two plays. His 17 points, eight rebounds (five of which were offensive), two steals, 6-11 shooting from the floor, and a 5-7 performance at the free throw line led UVA’s way. Offensively, he was a solid shooter in the soft spots of Syracuse territory while playing on the glass and finishing solidly at the edge. Defensively, he was particularly great in the second half both on the ball when he had to protect Edwards and off the ball as he played passing lanes well, was smart at time for the double, and was good on his runs.
With the outing, Gardner collected a season-best two games in the past three days after tallying 18 points against Boston College on Saturday. The veteran was on the outside looking at times during this winning streak, but it’s clear he stayed ready and stepped up strong when the team needed him. This is equanimity, this is experience, and this is sheer willpower.
Kadin Shedrick’s play is problematic
Ahead of this season, Kadin Shedrick looked ready for a breakout season. Not only is it a redshirt junior season when Virginia’s top men really prove themselves and find consistency, but after last season he seemed very close to finishing his game and becoming a dominant senior player for UVA. His potential as a player was always high because he could be defensively blocking shots, blowing up ball screens and making life easy on his teammates while his offensive game was expanding. It looked like he might be a big player for the Cavaliers in the paint.
Sadly, despite his flashes early in the season as an effective finisher and playmaking defensive center, his persistent problems with foul troubles (Chedrick is 92 of 92 eligible ACC players in fouls every 40 minutes), general inconsistency, and bad luck. Luck and silly mistakes left the team without a real center to rely on when needed.
That missing piece was evident against Syracuse as the Orange ran their offense largely through quarterback Jesse Edwards – who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds (four offensive tackles), and three assists. While Shedrick played 11 minutes, he fouled three times in that period because he was playing defense so much with his hands instead of his feet. Without Shedrick as a reliable individual defender from Edwards, UVA was left scrambling as Vander Plas and Gardner usually struggled against the height and length of Syracuse’s center.
Luckily, these two managed to combine to get enough pit stops to get the win. But Shedrick’s play lately is legally worrisome when the Hoos are up against big guys like Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, or Clemson’s PJ Hall. The teams have clearly identified defending the position as one of Virginia’s weaknesses and it’s only a matter of time before one pays them for it.
Virginia’s freshmen continue to prove their worth in the big moments
With Virginia’s Justin Taylor and Malik Brown (and the Charlottesville area) together to play 71 minutes in this game, there was a clear challenge involving UVA’s Isaac McNeely and Ryan Dunn as Tony Bennett primarily picked these two guys over homegrown products. While Dunn and McNeely play for a team that is deeper and more experienced than Taylor and Brown, they each had their moments in the moment that proved crucial for the ‘Hoos down the stretch.
McNeely’s pair of triples in the first half helped keep the offense from falling into lulls as Syracuse stifled the Wahoo offense while his usually faultless offensive game kept the Orange upright throughout the game. He also added four powerful defensive rebounds in 18 minutes.
In just eight minutes of work, Dan was (as usual) calm until he wasn’t anymore. His one-handed dunking of an alley pass from Kihei Clark was in typical Dunn style while providing a decent change on the defensive end when Virginia was struggling to find a way to stop Jesse Edwards.
That Dan and McNeely continue to gain late game experience will be beneficial in the short and long term as their development continues to push UVA’s bar higher this season and into the future.
The UVA experience is fully revealed
While the youngsters had their moments, this was a game where the value of getting old and staying old was shown for Virginia. In the fifth year Gardner played incredibly well, as did fellow seniors Kehey Clark and Ben VanderPlass. Clark hit a double-double, scored 12 points and had 10 assists with five of his points coming in the final 3:04 of regulation as a three-pointer clutch and a pair of free throws on consecutive possessions extended Wahoo’s lead from 59-58 to 64-58.
BVP was also particularly important playing in Syracuse territory as his passing ability and knack for creating space and finding teammates open had him six assists – he also finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
Granted, Clark has five turnovers while Vander Blass has three. But that would simply happen against a tall, well-trained zone defense like Syracuse when tight passing is essential to creating an open appearance. Overall, having such an abundance of experience continues to win UVA games. These guys have had these moments over and over and are comfortable playing the clutch.
The next three games could mark UVA’s end in the ACC
With that seven-win streak now, the Cavaliers are still in control of their ACC destiny as first-place Clemson comes to Charlottesville on February 28 in a game that could very well determine who wins the regular season conference title. However, things can and probably will change dramatically before this game is even played.
Virginia’s next three games represent UVA’s toughest group of opponents this season. play Virginia Tech In Blacksburg next Saturday, then host North Carolina State on tuesday, and capped off a tough week by saying hello to Duke Blue Devils To town in the 11th, the Hoos can make or break their regular season here.
By winning all three, UVA would fantastically establish themselves for winning the ACC title with games against Louisville (really bad), Notre Dame (relatively bad), and Boston College (bad) spilled the next week of action before heading to Chapel Hill, then facing Clemson, and closing the regular season at home against Louisville (again, really bad). Assuming those four games go down as a win, a 4-1 lead or better in the remaining five should be enough for the ‘Hoos’ to get the single seed in Greensboro.
Course 10-1 Clemson Tigers Should the UVA team be concerned about their challenge in that spot. But with the way the Tigers have played on the road this season and considering how lucky they’ve been with some close wins (looking at you, Florida), it seems reasonable for them to drop at least two more games on their schedule (including home against Miami, on the road against North Carolina, home against Syracuse, at NC State, and Virginia).
All of which is to say that this seven win streak has been huge for Tony Bennett and company. If they keep at it, things should start to fall into place.