CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Malcolm Brogdon talked before No. 12 Virginia’s final home game about making it a success for seniors Joe Harris of Chelan, Akil Mitchell and even former walk-on Thomas Rogers, the first building blocks in Tony Bennett’s remaking of the Cavaliers.
On Saturday, Brogdon made sure teammates left happy. He scored 17 of his career-high 19 points in the second half, including eight in a decisive run that sent Virginia on its way to a 75-56 victory against No. 4 Syracuse.
The victory was the 13th in a row for the Cavaliers, and secured their first outright Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship in 33 years.
“Super exciting,” redshirt sophomore Brogdon said of watching the final seconds tick off the clock with students poised to charge the court despite pleas from the public-address announcer that they stay put.
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The last Virginia team to win the ACC outright had sophomore Ralph Sampson in the middle.
Mitchell added 12 points and nine rebounds, and Mike Tobey and Justin Anderson scored 11 apiece for the Cavaliers (25-5 overall, 16-1 ACC).
Bennett, a former Washington State coach hired by Virginia in 2009, said of the noise, “The last time I heard it that loud, I was at a Taylor Swift concert.”
Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair each scored 13 for the Orange (26-3, 13-3), which lost for the third time in four games. Syracuse played much of the game without ailing Jerami Grant because of a sore back, but coach Jim Boeheim said it was no excuse.
“They had a tremendous second half. They proved that they could hit those threes, and got it going a little bit,” Boeheim said of the Cavaliers. “Everyone knows they are a tremendous defensive team and they are also an impressive three-point team.
“They got going in the second half. I have thought that for a couple weeks, that they have been by far the best team.”
Other Top 10 men
At No. 1 Florida 79, Louisiana St. 61
Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points, and the Gators (27-2, 16-0 Southeastern) used a season-high 13 three-pointers to extend their school-record winning streak to 21 games.
Florida has won 31 home games in a row.
Johnny O’Bryant III led the Tigers (17-11, 8-8) with 18 points. LSU has lost its last seven road games.
At No. 2 Wichita St. 68, Missouri St. 45
Wichita State will carry its pursuit of perfection into the Missouri Valley tournament.
Cleanthony Early scored 19 points, Ron Baker added 13 and the Shockers (31-0, 18-0 Missouri Valley) cruised past the Bears (19-11, 9-9).
Wichita State became the first team since Saint Joseph’s in 2004 to enter its conference tournament unbeaten.
The Shockers will have a first-round bye in St. Louis next week.
At Oklahoma St. 72, No. 5 Kansas 65
Guard Marcus Smart scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half to help the Cowboys (19-10, 7-9 Big 12) beat the Jayhawks (22-7, 13-3) and boost their once-fading NCAA tournament hopes.
Oklahoma State, which overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half, is 3-0 since Smart returned from a three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan during a game.
Andrew Wiggins scored 15 points for Kansas, which had clinched the Big 12 title outright before tipoff because Texas and Iowa State lost earlier.
At No. 21 Memphis 72, No. 7 Louisville 66
Chris Crawford made a three-pointer with 1:36 left to put Memphis ahead to stay, and the Tigers (22-7, 11-5 American Athletic) swept the season series from the Cardinals (24-5, 13-3).
Memphis trailed 65-57 with 4:45 left but scored 15 of the final 16 points.
Montrezl Harrell scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for defending NCAA champion Louisville.
At Xavier 75, No. 9 Creighton 69
Justin Martin had 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to help the Musketeers (20-9, 10-6 Big East) defeat the Bluejays (23-5, 13-3).
Xavier built a 13-point lead early in the second half. Creighton couldn’t catch up despite 27 points by Doug McDermott, who leads the nation in scoring.
At VCU 67, No. 10 Saint Louis 56
Treveon Graham had 17 points and eight rebounds, and the Rams (22-7, 10-4 Atlantic 10) added a quality win to their NCAA tournament résumé by beating the Billikens (25-4, 12-2).
Saint Louis has lost two straight after a school-record winning streak of 19 games.
Top 5 women
At No. 1 UConn 72, No. 24 Rutgers 35
Breanna Stewart and Bria Hartley each scored 20 points to help the Huskies (30-0, 17-0 American Athletic) beat the Scarlet Knights (21-7, 12-5).
No. 3 Louisville 75, at Cincinnati 51
Tia Gibbs scored 17 points and the Cardinals (28-2, 16-1 American Athletic) pulled away from the Bearcats (12-16, 5-12).
Other men’s game
At North Dakota 69, Eastern Washington 67
Troy Huff scored 14 points, including a winning shot that beat the buzzer after his offensive rebound, as North Dakota (14-14, 11-7 Big Sky) edged the Eagles (14-15, 9-9).
Venky Jois led Eastern with 22 points. A hand injury kept guard Drew Brandon from playing.