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Virginia tops Syracuse to sew up ACC's top seed

Mar 3, 2015 - 3:48 AM Syracuse, NY ( - Anthony Gill posted 17 points and nine rebounds, and second-ranked Virginia overcame a slow start to record a 59-47 victory over Syracuse and claim the ACC regular-season championship.

The Cavaliers dominated the late stages of the first half and the entire second en route to clinching their first back-to-back outright conference titles in program history. Virginia (28-1, 16-1 ACC) also set a new school standard for best record after 29 games, topping the 1981-82 squad's 27-2 mark.

"I'm so thankful," Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett said. "These young men have stayed true to their identity as a team. You have to trust what we're doing, and they have done that. They've found ways (to win), and that's remarkable to me."

London Perrantes added 10 points and 10 assists in the win, with Malcolm Brogdon and Mike Tobey also finishing with 10 points.

Syracuse (18-12, 9-8) was able to force UVa into 20 turnovers and owned an 11- point lead midway through the first half, but struggled offensively the rest of the way. The Orange shot just 38.3 percent overall and made just 4-of-19 attempts from 3-point range.

"I think the biggest difference in the ball game is that they got us inside on the boards and I just don't think we competed on the backboards like we have all year," said Orange head coach Jim Boeheim, whose team was outrebounded by a 42-20 margin on the night.

The loss also denied Syracuse its first season short of 20 wins since 1996-97. With Syracuse ineligible for the ACC tournament and the postseason due to self-imposed sanctions, it'll wrap up its schedule Saturday at NC State.

Trevor Cooney had 14 points in the loss, with Rakeem Christmas netting 10 in his final game at the Carrier Dome.

The Cavaliers were miserable offensively for much of the first half, but finished the period strong to pull ahead by the intermission.

Down 20-12 following a Cooney 3-pointer, Virginia went on an 11-0 run over the final three minutes of the stanza. Perrantes fed Tobey for a go-ahead dunk with 1:10 left, then later buried a jumper in the final seconds that sent the Cavaliers into the break holding a 23-20 edge.

Virginia stayed hot during the early stages of the second half, using a 12-2 tear to further extend the margin. Brogdon buried two treys during the sequence, which Tobey capped with a fastbreak dunk off a Perrantes steal that put the Cavs up 40-27 with 15 1/2 minutes to play.

Syracuse never got the deficit below double digits thereafter, with the Cavaliers putting it out of reach with a 10-3 spurt Gill finished with an emphatic dunk for a 55-38 lead with 3:45 remaining.

Virginia had all sorts of problems against Syracuse's zone early on. The Cavs turned it over 10 times over the first 10 1/2 minutes of play and didn't record their initial points until 11;42 remained in the half as the Orange jumped out to an 13-2 lead.

"That was about as bad as you can look," Bennett remarked.

The Cavaliers' second basket didn't come until nearly 14 minutes in, an Evan Nolte triple that ignited a 10-4 spurt that cut the margin to 17-12.

Game Notes

The win was Virginia's 12th straight on the road ... Syracuse was coming off a 3-for-20 performance from beyond the arc in Saturday's 73-54 loss at No. 3 Duke ... Virginia concludes its regular season with a visit to No. 16 Louisville on Saturday.