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Shortly after the calendar turns to 2022, the Virginia Cavaliers and Syracuse Orange will tip off, each looking to make a jump in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.
Virginia (7-5, 1-1) will travel to Syracuse (7-5, 1-0) to break in the new year with a Saturday matchup that will mark the end of a long layoff for the Cavaliers. Virginia has not played since a 67-50 loss at home to Clemson on Dec. 22 -- the Cavaliers' first loss to the Tigers in 12 meetings.
Reece Beekman led the Cavaliers in scoring with 20 points, but the team's offense was not crisp enough to keep up with the Tigers. Virginia had 14 turnovers to just seven assists while shooting 27.3 percent (6-for-22) from 3-point range.
"When we turn it over that stat jumps out," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. "We got some good looks, but we couldn't knock them down. We've got a lot of work to do. That's real, that's a very solid team we played. We'll keep working to improve."
The first opportunity to show that improvement will come in New York at Syracuse, a team that has already gone through its own prolonged layoff. After a 15-day break that included two postponements, the Orange beat Brown 93-62 on Monday and then dropped Cornell 80-68 on Wednesday. In the most recent game, Buddy Boeheim and Cole Swider each went for 20-plus points, scoring 22 and 21, respectively.
"We're looking for him better," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said of Swider. "When (opponents are) doubling, we're finding him. Some teams aren't leaving him though, so when that happens, the post is going to have to score in those situations."
As for what Boeheim believes his team needs to focus on with the ACC slate looming:
"We need to get some help off our bench and continue to work on our defense," Boeheim said. " It's a little better, I think it was really good in the first half until the end of the first half."
Saturday's game will be the only meeting of the season between the teams.
--Field Level Media