Brandon Triche found his groove when it looked like Syracuse was losing its own.
One game after scoring a season-high 21 points against Louisville, Triche scored 20 points as No. 20 Syracuse (21-6, 8-6 Big East) used a 10-3 second half run to snap its two-game losing streak with a 63-52 win over West Virginia (16-9, 7-6).
“The last game, Brandon found himself, and tonight, he continued along that way,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said in his post-game press conference. “Brandon has been very aggressive, and that’s important for our team. He is a scorer.”
The Orange badly needed a win after losses to Georgetown and Louisville last week. Syracuse, which started the season winning its first 18 games, found itself heading into the game in 11th place in the Big East after losing six of its last eight.
The Orange had also lost three straight at home — Syracuse has never lost four straight at home in the Jim Boeheim era.
It seemed that SU was headed that way after trailing 30-26 going into halftime.
But coming out of the break, Triche took charge, scoring eight points in the first five minutes of the second half to give SU a 40-35 lead with 15:21 left.
“I just realized sometimes I wasn’t trying to take tough shots,” Triche said to reporters after the game. “I’m just trying to take open shots and get in a rhythm.”
But after Triche picked up his fourth foul, West Virginia immediately took advantage, as a Kevin Jones jumper from the free throw line cut Syracuse’s lead to 51-49 with 8:28 left.
Boeheim immediately put Triche back into the game, and Triche quickly scored on a layup, which was part of a 10-3 Syracuse run. Kris Joseph (16 points) capped that run with an emphatic slam that gave SU a 61-52 lead with 3:39 left.
The Orange would control the game after that.
“It’s a situation where you needed to win,” Boeheim said. “This is a good win for us.”
Casey Mitchell led West Virginia with 23 points on 7-for-12 shooting from downtown. John Flowers added 10 points. The Mountaineers shot 50 percent from 3-point land but only 36 percent from the field.
Other than Flowers and Mitchell, West Virginia was listless on offense as the rest of West Virginia shot a combined 9-for-28 from the field.
“We realized today that our defense is going to help us win,” Triche said. “Today we were active up top and the bottom of the zone. We got our hands on passes and we were able to get to loose balls.”