After a sluggish first half, #5 Syracuse woke up after the intermission and stormed back to grab a 69-58 victory over Virginia Tech in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tipoff Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Orange (5-0) trailed the entire first half and several minutes into the second half, but shot over 55 percent after the break in storming back to beat the Hokies (3-1). With his squad threatened for the first time of the young season, Jim Boeheim shortened his bench, using only seven players in the second half when SU took command of the game.
Virginia Tech got a three-pointer to start the game, then stretched their lead out to 10-4 before the game was three minutes old. The Orange hung around, though, allowing the deficit to grow to as many as seven points on four occasions, the last coming with under 2:30 on the clock. Syracuse closed the half with a 7-2 burst to close the margin to 29-27 in favor of the Hokies at halftime.
The early minutes of the second half were not much better to SU, as they struggled to take the lead. A three-pointer almost seven minutes into the second half knotted the score for the first time since the tip-off, but more importantly, triggered an 11-0 Syracuse run that gave them a 50-42 lead with under 11 minutes on the clock. A Virginia Tech three stopped the run, but Dion Waiters scored the next six points of the game, extending the Orange lead to 56-45. The Hokies clipped the margin down to five with just over five minutes remaining, but SU scored the next nine points to take their largest lead of the night at 67-53 with 1:19 on the clock, then cruised to the final horn.
Kris Joseph had a big night for the Orange, logging a double-double of 20 points and ten rebounds. Brandon Triche buried four three-pointers on his way to 18 points. The bench provided its usual contribution, as C. J. Fair had 12 points and ten rebounds to log his first career double-double while Dion Waiters chipped in with 11 points, all of them coming in the second half. Fab Melo was a defensive force in the middle of the zone, blocking five shots.