Syracuse torched by Virginia Tech first half offensive display

Maliq Brown
Jan 24, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Maliq Brown speaks to the media following Syracuse's loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels at the JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Gustin/The Juice Online.

Virginia Tech’s Hunter Cattour missed the first game against Syracuse earlier this season.  His teammates shot just 3-of-19 from three-point range without him and the Orange led by as many as 22 on their way to an 82-72 win.  Cattour was available for the Hokies (13-8, 3-7 ACC) Saturday night in the second contest and they shot 11-for-20 from three in the first half and led by as many as 22 points in routing the Orange (13-9, 6-5) in Blacksburg, 85-70.

Cattour made five triples and assisted on five others in that first half, having his hands involved in 30 of the Hokies’ points while SU mustered 33 points collectively in that span.  Virginia Tech torched the Syracuse defense, shooting 62.5 percent overall in the first half and 55 percent from three, a result of getting wide open looks both on the perimeter and under the basket.  Of their 20 field goals, 18 were assisted.

Given that first half offensive barrage, it was no surprise the Hokies had the first run of the night, rattling off nine straight points to take the biggest lead of the game since they opened the scoring with a three at 18-10.  The Orange responded with seven of the next ten points of the game to draw within four at the midpoint of the half.

And that was the last time the game was competitive.

Virginia Tech made seven of their next eight shots, all but one coming from three, to blow the game open at 41-25 with five minutes left in the half.  Judah Mintz fought to keep SU in the game, scoring six of their eight points the rest of the half and assisting on the other two, but triple number 11 of the first half just before the break gave the Hokies a 52-33 stranglehold on the game.

The hosts extended their lead to 22 on two occasions in the first five minutes after returning to the floor, but Syracuse responded with their best play of the night.  The Orange went on a 15-5 run, led by Maliq Brown’s five points and Mintz adding four.  The burst got SU within 65-53 with 11 minutes to play.

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Virginia Tech scored the next eight points of the game, immediately stretching the lead back out to 20 and snuffing out any Syracuse comeback dreams.  The Hokies’ control touched 22 points once more as they coasted to the finish line.

Mintz was the top scorer for the Orange with 21 points and he handed out eight assists, but also committed five turnovers.  Justin Taylor added 12 points in the form of four triples and Brown had 11 points in his first career start.  Once again limited by foul trouble, Jesse Edwards managed nine points and three steals.

Grant Basile had another banner day against SU, finishing with 25 points, one fewer than in the two teams’ first meeting. Cattour closed the game with 20 points, including six three-pointers.  Justyn Mutts did everything for Virginia Tech, scoring 11 points, grabbing 12 boards, and handing out eight assists.  M.J. Collins hit a trio of treys for most of his 11 points.

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About Jim Stechschulte 894 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by He currently resides in Syracuse.