The Syracuse offense clicked on all cylinders for most of Wednesday night, powering them to an 82-72 home victory over Virginia Tech. The Orange (11-6, 4-2 ACC) came out of the break adding a strong defensive effort to that offense, holding the Hokies (11-6, 1-5) to just two field goals in the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the second half. That effort on both ends boosted SU to a 63-41 lead and allowed them to coast home from there.
While they were giving up just four points in that game-turning span of the second half, Syracuse also dropped a 20-spot on Virginia Tech. Joe Girard III had eight of his 15 second half points in that run and tallied a team-high 24 points.
Girard got plenty of support, as four other Orange players crossed the double digit barrier, led by Jesse Edwards’ 13 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Judah Mintz added a dozen points while Maliq Brown came off the bench to post his first career double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, five coming on the offensive end. Justin Taylor tacked on ten points to the SU effort.
Grant Basile led four Hokies in double figures by making 12-of-17 shots from the field as part of a game-high 26-point, ten-rebound outburst. Justyn Mutts, who had a triple-double when the two teams met last season, almost had a double-double with 21 points and nine assists. Lynn Kidd and Sean Pedulla each chipped in with ten points, but Pedulla, the top VT scorer, struggled to find the bottom of the net, finishing 3-of-15 from the field and 2-of-11 from beyond the arc.
Virginia Tech had the better of things early, twice grabbing a five-point lead in the first seven minutes of play. Syracuse struck back with an 11-2 streak to take the lead for the first time. Edwards was heavily involved in the run, setting up Brown for a three-point-play, then throwing down an alley-oop from Girard and adding his own three-point-play. Taylor capped the burst with a triple and the Orange held an 18-14 edge.
The Hokies needed under three minutes to go back in front, but seven straight markers from Taylor and Girard gave SU a lead they would not relinquish at 29-24. The Syracuse lead ranged between three and eight points the rest of the half before settling at 43-37 for intermission.
The Orange defense turned things up coming out of the break, holding Virginia Tech to 2-of-8 shooting with five turnovers as they posted that 20-4 run to start the second half to grab a 63-41 stranglehold. SU cooled off and the guests made a push, running off ten straight points to draw within 65-53 with a little over eight minutes to play.
The hosts shook off the doldrums and strung together enough offense over the closing minutes to never seriously be threatened the rest of the way as the Hokies never got within single digits before the final horn.