The good news for Syracuse is that the Orange scored 60 or more points against third-ranked Virginia on Tuesday … barely, with 61.
And it wasn’t enough as the Cavaliers won their seventh game in a row, four in ACC play, 68-61. It was the first time Virginia gave up 60 or more points in an ACC game this season, and the sixth in its last 22 league games.
But another streak continued: UVA (15-1, 4-0) hasn’t allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent or more from the field and Syracuse (.383) was the ninth team to fail to reach 40 percent against the Cavaliers’ “Pack Line Defense,” a variation of a sagging man-to-man that UVA coach Tony Bennett learned from his father, former Washington State and Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett.
Virginia’s defense is particularly adept at stopping “dribble-drive” teams and the numbers are staggering. The Cavs lead the ACC and the nation in scoring defense (53.0 points per game), and lead the ACC and are second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.361).
And UVA continues to do it without flashy athletic plays. Virginia is ninth in the ACC in both steals (7.13 per game) and blocked shots (4.31 per game) and is simply stopping opponents with straight-up effort.
“He’s clearly the best defensive coach in the country the last few years,” Syrause coach Jim Boeheim said of Bennett during Monday’s ACC coaches teleconference, the day before his team played Virginia. “They’re a very difficult team to play against, very difficult to get good shots against.”
The Cavs also don’t hurt themselves: they lead the ACC and the nation in fewest turnovers per game (9.0).
But there’s a bit more offense this season, behind leading scorer Kyle Guy (15.4 points per game and a .442 3-point percentage) and Devin Hall (11.9 points and a .446 3-point mark). The Cavs are scoring 70.9 per game, more than four points better than last season, when they were last in the ACC (66.1).
Virginia’s point differential of 17.7 per game is second in the ACC to Duke and 10th in the nation.
Valentine is back
Reports of the demise of referee Ted “TV Teddy” Valentine — which he originated when he threatened retirement last weekend — were premature.
Days after saying he might not want to deal with the criticism of his over-the-top style that earned his nickname and a parody Twitter account, Valentine officiated Tuesday’s Virginia-Syracuse game.
After his latest controversy last week, in which he turned his back on North Carolina senior guard Joel Berry II when asked to explain why he didn’t call what appeared to be an obvious holding foul on Florida State’s Terance Mann, Valentine seemingly didn’t want to deal with the criticism any longer.
“I’m thinking about retiring,” Valentine told The Athletic. “I’ve had enough of people blowing up stuff. I think I’ve had a stellar career, and I think it’s time to get ready to walk away.”
Valentine has officiated in 28 NCAA tournaments, 10 Final Fours and four national championship games. He also has had noted run-ins with coaches such as Bob Knight and Mick Cronin and the Big Ten took him off two of its games last weekend because of the incident with Berry, the Tar Heels’ captain who only wanted an explanation from Valentine.
“What is it that I want to do?,” he told The Athletic. “Do I want to go back? Can I put up with this?”
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas called Valentine’s treatment of Berry, “inappropriate.”
“I wasn’t calling on anyone to be suspended, but when a senior captain addresses an official and the official literally turns his back and folds his arms and looks in the other direction … I mean, I’ve never seen it before,” Bilas said.
North Carolina forward Luke Maye had a career-high 32 points and 18 rebounds as the Tar Heels’ bounced back from a two-game losing streak to rout Boston College 96-66 on Tuesday at the Smith Center.
It was the first time a UNC player had at least 30 points and 15 rebounds at home since Antawn Jamison had 36 and 16 against Maryland on Feb. 14, 1998. It was Maye’s 10th double-double of the season and his second 30-point game.
Harris will transfer to N.C. State
Missouri transfer Blake Harris told ESPN he will transfer to play for N.C. State. Harris is a 6-foot-3 guard and a North Carolina native.
He originally committed to Washington in the summer before his senior year of high school but decommitted after coach Lorenzo Romar was fired. Once Michael Porter Sr. was hired as an assistant coach at Missouri and Michael Porter Jr. followed, Harris signed with Missouri.
Ranked No. 99 in the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2017, Harris averaged 3.8 points and 3.1 assists in 14 games at Missouri this season.