Gardner, No. 6 Virginia hold off Syracuse for 7th straight win
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Jayden Gardner scored 17 points and made a jumper near the foul line in the final minute as No. 6 Virginia withstood a second-half surge by Syracuse to win its seventh straight game, 67-62, on Monday night.
Gardner, a fifth-year senior, drew a charge for the fifth foul on Syracuse big man Jesse Edwards with 1 minute left, then converted the shot with 37 seconds remaining to put the Cavaliers (17-3, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) up by four.
Kihei Clark and Armaan Franklin each scored 12 points for Virginia, which completed a sweep of Syracuse and moved within one game of ACC-leading Clemson.
Judah Mintz scored 20 points and Edwards had 14 for Syracuse (13-10, 6-6), which has lost four of five.
Virginia twice led by eight points early in the first half, the biggest advantage for either team. The Cavaliers went ahead 46-39 early in the second half before Syracuse went on a 12-0 run that included a three-point play by Mintz, a 3-pointer and three free throws by Chris Bell, and a three-point play by Edwards.
But Franklin responded for the Cavaliers, making consecutive 3s for a 57-54 lead. Clark contributed a 3 with 3:10 remaining and two free throws with 2:35 left to give Virginia a six-point lead.
Syracuse closed within two but Edwards' offensive foul cost the Orange a change to tie the game.
The Orange shot 50% against Virginia's typically stout defense but went just 3 of 15 from 3-point range and 11 of 18 (61.1%) from the free-throw line. Meantime, Virginia shot 9 of 21 (42.9%) from long range and had success feeding Gardner in the post for easy baskets against Syracuse's zone.
The Cavaliers haven't lost since a 68-65 defeat at Pittsburgh on Jan. 3. This is coach Tony Bennett's deepest team since the 2018-19 squad that won the national title, thanks in part to big contributions from freshmen Isaac McKneely and Ryan Dunn.
Coach Jim Boeheim's Orange have been shaky on their home floor, going 3-3 at the cavernous JMA Wireless Dome in ACC play.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts watched the game from a courtside seat, a day after he led his team to the Super Bowl with a 31-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game.
Virginia: At Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Syracuse: At Boston College on Saturday.
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