CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia held Syracuse to only 43 points in 40-minutes of regulation on Saturday, including just 19 points in the 2nd half.
But in the five-minute overtime period, the Orange poured in 20-points, and pulled out a 63-55 win.
UVa senior forward Mamadi Diakite says, “I thought we just relaxed, and that’s not a coaching point. That’s us players. I know we’re young, but we got to know at that point of the game, in a home game you have the advantage, you got to take that advantage.”
The Orange made 5-of-6 three-point attempts in OT.
“We weren’t helping each other defensively,” says Diakite. "We weren’t doing what we were doing before overtime. That’s the reason why we got to that spot.”
Head coach Tony Bennett adds, “We couldn’t come up with key stops, whether that made tough shots, or we made some breakdowns It was a little bit of both. When you have less-experienced guys in certain spots, you just keep plugging.”
Despite the loss, UVa still has the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation, giving up just 48.7 points per game this season.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim knows how difficult it can be to face a Tony Bennett-coached team.
“He’s the best defensive coach I’ve ever seen," says Boeheim. "His teams play the best defense. We’ve played against some good ones. John Thompson was pretty good. Bobby Knight was pretty good, defensively. I can go down the list of other guys, but he’s better defensively than all of those guys are.”
That’s high praise from a Hall of Famer.
Virginia will be back in action on Wednesday night, as they travel to face 10th ranked Florida State.