Instant Juice: Syracuse 72, Virginia Tech 70

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Syracuse’s late comeback ended a two-game losing streak

A quick take on Syracuse’s 72-70 win against Virginia Tech on Tuesday evening:

WHAT HAPPENED: Down 13 points with 6:33 left, the Orange went on a late 8-0 run, and Michael Gbinije’s basket with 0.1 seconds left lifted Syracuse to an improbable win. SU made a late surge thanks to an effective full-court trapping press, which forced the Hokies into six turnovers in the final four minutes of the game. The penultimate turnover led to Gbinije getting sent to the free throw line with 19 seconds left. Gbinije, just a 48 percent free throw shooter drained both to tie the game. After the Hokies turned it over again, Gbinije got into the lane and hit a spinning floater to save the Orange from a potentially embarrassing home loss.

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ANALYSIS: The Orange kept its faint NCAA hopes alive after it appeared that they were headed to a disappointing loss. If the season were to end today, the Orange would still be on the outside of the tournament bubble looking in. But there are plenty of opportunities for SU to make up ground. The second half of SU’s ACC schedule includes games against Duke, Louisville and Notre Dame, the cream of the conference. March Madness is still a flicker of hope after an improbable comeback. SU allowed itself to get in a double-digit hole with porous outside defense. The Hokies were 9-18 from downtown and shot 42 percent overall for the game. The smaller Hokies also tied the Orange on the boards, 40-40.

HERO: A relatively obscure player having a career night from outside against Syracuse? You don’t say. Tonight’s “Konstantinos Mitoglou” award went to Jalen Hudson, whose 18 points easily eclipsed his season average of 5.7 points per game. For Syracuse, the hero was obvious: Gbinije scored 18 points, and he saved his final four points for the most critical part of the game. He also chipped in seven assists and four steals.

ZERO: Trevor Cooney has played every single minute of the last three games, and perhaps it showed against the Hokies. Though he finished tied for a team-high 18 points, he went 2-12 from downtown.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will travel to Pitt to play the Panthers on Saturday, Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. TV: ESPN2.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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