No. 1 Virginia had a double-digit lead in the second half against No. 10 Syracuse — and, thanks to its suffocating defense, had never lost after holding a double-digit lead at halftime under Tony Bennett. On Sunday in the Midwest Regional final, Syracuse flipped that script in a comeback for the ages that earned a 68-62 win.
The Orange staged a 29-8 run in the final 10 minutes of play, held Virginia without a field goal for almost six minutes, and got 21 of freshman Malachi Richardson's 23 points in the second half to upset the Cavaliers. After being held to just 21 points by one of the nation's best defenses in the first half, Syracuse mustered 47 points in the final 20 minutes, and held Virginia to just 27.
That reversal of fortune ruined Bennett's perfect record with a halftime lead of 10 or more points, which was 68-0 over his seven years with the Cavaliers entering Sunday.
Virginia had responded to an early 8-2 hole with an extended 19-2 run in the first half, and seemed fully in control of the game well into the second half in Chicago. But despite building a lead that swelled to 16 points, and stood at 15 with 9:33 to play, it wasn't enough to get the Cavaliers to a long-elusive Final Four, thanks to a Syracuse press that disrupted their deliberate offense.
London Perrantes led Virginia with 18 points, but made all five of his three-pointers in the first half.
The victory propels Syracuse to the Final Four for the first time since 2013, and denies Virginia its first Final Four berth since 1984. Syracuse is also the first No. 10 seed to make the Final Four in NCAA Tournament history.
With Virginia's loss, No. 1 seeds are 0-3 in regional finals in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
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