SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Apparently, no lead against the Syracuse Orange is safe enough for the Virginia Cavaliers.
Syracuse erased a 12-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Cavaliers 44-28 in the second half on Saturday as the Orange downed ninth-ranked Virginia 66-62 in an Atlantic Coast Conference game before 27,553 fans at the Carrier Dome -- the largest on-campus crowd of the season.
In their previous meeting in last year's NCAA Tournament, 10th-seeded Syracuse rallied from 16 points down in the second half to stun top-seeded Virginia and advance to the Final Four.
"It shows a lot of determination from our players; I'm really proud of what they did today," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "It was an unbelievable comeback. Unbelievable.
"I think it topped the other night (a 16-point comeback against North Carolina State) because of the way Virginia plays defense."
Depending on your point of view, Boeheim notched either his 1,000th or 899th career win as 101 Orange wins between 2004-07 and 2010-12 were vacated because of NCAA violations.
The only other Division I coach with 1,000 victories is Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, who was at 1,060 entering Saturday's game against Pittsburgh.
Under NCAA rules, Syracuse could not acknowledge the win as Boeheim's 1,000th.
But that didn't stop Syracuse fans from storming the court after the game or waving signs congratulating Boeheim on No. 1,000, and it didn't stop Boeheim from remaining on the court for a few minutes to wave to fans and bask in the upset win.
"I'm just happy to win this game," Boeheim said. "This was a huge game for us. We had to win this game. The number I'm concerned about going into today was 15. We had to get to 15 (wins) today.
"The crowd was so instrumental in the game and I was trying to show them that."
Freshman guard Tyus Battle scored a career-high 23 points and Andrew White also tallied 23 as the Orange (15-9, 7-4 in the ACC) won its fourth consecutive game.
Kyle Guy led the Cavaliers (17-5, 7-3) with 14 points, and London Perrantes added 11 points and eight assists.
Trailing 34-22 at the half, Boeheim said he followed assistant coaches Mike Hopkins and Gerry McNamara's advice that the Orange open the floor and allow wings Battle and White to penetrate against Virginia's vaunted man-to-man defense.
The Cavaliers entered the game ranked first in the nation in points allowed per game (53.4) and second in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (38.5).
"In the first half, they did a really good job of protecting the paint and being tight in gaps," said White, a fifth-year senior transfer from Nebraska who has scored in double figures in all but one of Syracuse's games this season.
"But in the second half, we were able to spread the floor a little bit more and kind of play 'take 'em,' and it worked."
White and Battle scored a combined 28 points in the second half on 7-for-11 shooting and sank 11 of 14 foul shots.
After shooting 39.1 percent from the floor and 25 percent from 3-point range in the first half, the Orange shot 73.7 percent in the second half (66.7 from 3-point range).
"The second half, we talked about it, they spread us out and they attacked," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. ""Those wings are good; they're physical, they're tough, they can create their own. We had a hard time keeping them in front."
Syracuse opened the second half on an 11-0 run as the Orange held the Cavaliers without a field goal for the first 7:11 of the half. Battle ignited the run with a 3-pointer and White capped it with another trey.
After Guy ended the Virginia drought with a runner to put the Cavaliers ahead 36-33, White and Tyler Lydon hit back-to-back 3- pointers to give Syracuse a 39-36 advantage.
"We knew it was coming," Perrantes said. "We know they were going to try to put up a run, we just had to be able to fight and we didn't."
Although Virginia pulled within two points on four occasions late in the game, the Orange never trailed again as Battle's and White's drives resulted in layups or foul shots.
While Syracuse missed only five shots in the second half, the Cavaliers couldn't mount enough offense against Syracuse's 2-3 zone despite shooting 48 percent (24 for 50) overall and 50 percent (12 for 24) from 3-point range for the game.
"We were just moving on defense, keeping our hands up," Battle said. "I think in the second half we wanted to get out on the 3-point shooters a little more. If we're moving like that, it's tough to beat the zone."
The Cavaliers shot 7 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half as they built that 34-22 lead. After Battle tied the score 19-19 on a 3-pointer with 7:25 left in the half, the Cavaliers went on a 15-3 spurt to close the half, with guard Guy making two 3-pointers.
Guy, who entered the game averaging 7.5 points per game, connected on three 3-pointers in the first half and forward Mamadi Diakite added eight points, four above his season average.
But Syracuse stormed back in the second half, putting a rare smile on Boeheim's face and propelling the Orange back in the hunt for a NCAA Tournament berth after some dismal non-conference losses.
"I love seeing coach happy," Syracuse guard John Gillon said. "He works so hard and he cares so much, just to see his work pay off means a lot to me and for me to be able to help him (reach 1,000 wins) and be just a little part of it is huge."
-- Syracuse senior G Andrew White, who was 3 of 8 from 3-point range Saturday, entered the game averaging 3.22 3-pointers per game in league play, the highest in the ACC since Duke's J.J. Redick averaged 3.86 treys per game in 2005-06.
-- Despite the loss, Virginia has the best road record in ACC play (23-10) since the league expanded to 15 teams in 2013-14.
-- Orange sophomore F Tyler Lydon had made 33 consecutive free throws before missing his first one Saturday. Brandon Triche holds the Syracuse record with 37 consecutive free throws.