Syracuse squeezes out 68-66 win at Virginia Tech after near collapse in 2nd half

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_ BLACKSBURG, Va. — The game ended the way it started with Virginia Tech chucking hopeful 3s at, and mostly off, the rim.But it should have effectively ended much earlier. Because while the Hokies started the game with the 6-foot-8 Shane Henry and later the 7-foot Satchel Pierce, who were able to at least stand in front of Syracuse’s big men, they were largely reduced to spectators by foul trouble. And with VT’s leading rebounder Joey van Zegeren suspended, the Orange could play its greatest strength against the Hokies’ glaring weakness.SU did in the first half — leading by 19 at the break — only to all but give the game back afterward. The Orange failed to get the Rakeem Christmas the ball against Virginia Tech’s bigs, who were both weakened by foul trouble. Only their inevitable fouling out slowed the Hokies’ comeback as SU (10-4, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) held on to beat VT (8-6, 0-1) 68-66 on Saturday afternoon in front of 6,838 at Cassell Coliseum.“If our offense had been any good at all then it would’ve been a — they would’ve gotten back in the game but it would’ve been a 10-point game,” Jim Boeheim said. “That’s pretty good on the road, if you can get out with a 10-point win. But our offense was not good.”For the final 2:43 of the game, Virginia Tech played with no one taller than the 6-foot-5 Ahmed Hill on the floor. It led to situations like the 6-foot-3 Malik Muller trying and failing to post up Christmas.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Going into the half we had a big advantage, we had a big lead, we was confident in ourselves and we should’ve just continued what we did in the first half in the second half,” SU forward Michael Gbinije said.Boeheim said he thought his team should’ve scored “50-something” points before the break. Henry and Pierce played a combined 17 minutes in the first half. Pierce took the floor for the second half with three fouls. Henry picked up his third with 18:18 to playChristmas already had 10 points, a well-rested McCullough had 6 rebounds and with Tyler Roberson snaring 10 of his own rebounds before halftime, Virginia Tech was there for the taking — the closer to the hoop, the better.Instead, Syracuse only got Christmas three shots in the first 15 minutes of the second half. The Hokies closed the gap to 55-50 in that time. And while the hosts were dropping extra helpside defense onto the Orange big man, SU still wasn’t getting enough from its drives to the basket.Loose balls around the rim slipped out of Syracuse hands. Syracuse picked up only 16 second half rebounds compared to 26 in the first half. VT had 20 in the latter stanza compared to 14 in the first 20 minutes.“It should’ve never been close,” SU guard Trevor Cooney said. “When you’re up 20 you got to finish it off.”Still with little semblance of an offense, nearly no discretion shooting the ball and no one taller than 6 feet, 5 inches on the court in the game’s final two-plus minutes, the Hokies found themselves one final optimistic 3 away from a win.The Orange going 5-for-12 from the free-throw line in the game’s final 1:03, invigorating a previously tame VT crowd, let the Hokies get there.With the game’s final shot, Muller threw up a left-corner 3 over two SU defenders. It missed, and the Orange escaped with a win to start conference play.“I think we’ll get better,” Boeheim said. “I hope we’ll get better.” Commentslast_img read more