A quick take on Syracuse’s 72-52 win over Virginia Tech in its second ACC conference game:
WHAT HAPPENED: A game mostly controlled by Syracuse since the opening tip got to within 44-40 with 14:52 in the second half after Virginia Tech’s Ben Emelogu hit a jumper. But the Orange went on a 15-0 run powered by CJ Fair, Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant to give the Orange a 60-40 lead with 6:48 left, and SU cruised from there. Syracuse’s defense was its usual stifling self, holding the Hokies to 36 percent shooting from the field and 7-24 from downtown. Meanwhile, SU’s offense, which turned in one of its worst performance against Miami on Saturday, was significantly better, with the team collectively shooting 46 percent from the field. The Orange was also markedly improved from downtown, with Trevor Cooney and Ennis combining for six treys from beyond the arc.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse jumped to a 12 point lead after Cooney hit a layup with just over eight minutes left in the first half, and it seemed the Orange was poised to blow the game open. But Virginia Tech hung around longer than SU head coach Jim Boeheim would’ve preferred, methodically working the ball inside to CJ Barksdale, while two blown assignments led to sharpshooter Adam Smith burying a pair of 3s to cut the lead to six points by half. Boeheim was less than pleased with Grant, who lost Smith in the zone on both 3s. But the defense improved in the second half, and Virginia Tech went cold from downtown.
HERO: Fair was his usual reliable self, and could not be stopped from midrange, finishing with a game-high 17 points and six rebounds. He was one of four Orange in double figures along with Grant (12 points, 10 rebs), Ennis (13 points, 7 assists, 1 TO) and Cooney (11 pts). Baye Moussa Keita chipped in 9 rebounds off the bench.
ZERO: Virginia Tech’s Jarell Eddie is a streaky shooter, but looked mostly disinterested and finished with six points on 2-9 shooting. The Hokies’ frontline was also badly outplayed, losing a 41-25 margin on the boards.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to play North Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 11 at noon. TV: ESPN.