Q&A with Richmond Times-Dispatch UVA beat writer Mike Barber

first_img Published on February 3, 2017 at 12:33 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+ For the first time since the Elite Eight, Syracuse (14-9, 6-4 Atlantic Coast) and No. 9 Virginia (17-4, 7-2) face off, this time in the Carrier Dome on Saturday at noon. Last time the two teams played, the Orange stormed back from 16 down in the second half to become the first No. 10 seed to reach the Final Four. This time, the Orange rides a three-game winning streak into a date with a Top 10 team coming off a blowout win over Virginia Tech.Richmond Times-Dispatch UVA beat writer Mike Barber answered a few questions for The Daily Orange ahead of the game.The Daily Orange: It’s a cliché term, but is there any revenge factor stemming from the Elite Eight?Mike Barber: Revenge might not be the right word, but last year’s loss to Syracuse is definitely on the minds of the U.Va. players. As a few of them noted last night, winning Saturday won’t change what happened last year and will do little to ease the sting many of them still feel over that loss. I think there is a sense that they would like to show they can finish the job this time around against Syracuse, even though there is so much less on the line. Of course, I think that could work against them, too, if it’s a distraction from their normal preparation.The D.O.: Who’s one player Syracuse fans need to watch out for, not named London Perrantes?AdvertisementThis is placeholder textM.B.: This U.Va. team has had to remake itself, especially, offensively since it lost four seniors from last year and booted Memphis transfer Austin Nichols the first week of the season. It seems a different Robin has emerged each game to star alongside Perrantes’ Batman.For this game, keep an eye on junior forward Isaiah Wilkins. He’s scored in double figures in four of the last five games, including putting up a career-high 15 in Wednesday’s win over Virginia Tech. He also matched a U.Va. record over the past two games by hitting 12 straight shots. And the Hokies were playing a match-up zone against U.Va.The D.O.: The Orange just put up 100 against N.C. State in overtime and now have over 80 in three straight games. What gives, SU’s offense or Virginia’s stifling defense?M.B.: Syracuse hasn’t hit 70 points in any of its four meetings with U.Va. since joining the ACC and I don’t expect that to change this time around. Virginia is too deliberate on offense, limiting opposing teams possessions, and to good defensively. Even teams that score on U.Va. often have to use a ton of the shot clock to do so.The D.O.: If there’s one player on Syracuse that can exploit Virginia on D, who would it be?M.B.: Only four players have scored 20+ points against U.Va. this season, and two of them – Pittsburgh’s Jamel Artis and Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon – did it by hitting 6 3-pointers against the Cavaliers. So Andrew White would be the logical choice, if he can get hot from the outside. Of course, after his last game, John Gillon could be that guy as well.The D.O.: I’m not sure if you’re a predictions guy, but how do you think the game ends up?M.B.: U.Va. strikes me as more annoyed by questions about last year’s Elite Eight loss than it is angry. I think it’ll play well in Syracuse and continue its trend against Syracuse. The Cavaliers, as I mentioned, haven’t allowed the Orange to score 70 against them in an ACC game. Virginia has won six straight conference games now and I think they’ll get seven at the Carrier Dome. I’ll take U.Va. 72, Syracuse 64. Commentslast_img

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