Syracuse men’s basketball picks up huge 78-60 win against Virginia Tech
SU dominates No. 16 Virginia Tech 78-60
The Syracuse men’s basketball team faced Virginia Tech, the 16th ranked team in the nation Wednesday afternoon. Coming into the game the Hokies were red hot, winning seven of their last eight games and defeating three top-25 teams this season. The Orange did not have a win over a ranked team this season, but they picked up their first with a dominant 78-60 victory.
The Orange and Hokies battled back and forth for the first couple of minutes, with Marek Dolezaj putting his defender through the spin cycle for the first two points of the game. Nahiem Alleyne then hit a three to give the Hokies their first lead of the game, 3-2.
Virginia Tech came out in an aggressive man-to-man defense, while Syracuse stayed in their famous 2-3 zone. Quincy Guerrier made his first bucket of the game on a second-chance layup to put the Orange up 4-3. Alleyne made his second three of the afternoon from the top of the key, to give the Hokies the advantage.
After the three, both teams were quiet for a few minutes exchanging both turnovers and missed shots. After a pair of made free throws and another three by Alleyne, the Hokies went up 10-4, five minutes into the game.
After that the Orange went on a tear, scoring 11 straight points to go ahead 15-10 with about 12 minutes to go in the first half. Alleyne hit another three to silence the Orange and make it, 15-13.
Buddy Boeheim scored his first points of the game as he drove down the lane and sank a floater to give the Orange the 17-13 advantage. The Hokies responded with a three of their own by Hunter Cattoor on their next trip down the floor.
One of the big stories of this game was the foul trouble Virginia Tech got themselves in earlier in the game. Cattoor fouled Dolezaj on his next drive down the lane, which put Syracuse into the bonus with 10:41 to go in the half. Dolezaj knocked down the free throws, putting the Orange up again, 18-16.
Dolezaj tipped the ball in after a Kadary Richmond miss, giving the Orange a 5 point advantage. Another key to this game was Syracuse’s second chance points in the lane. In the first half, the Orange had 26 points in the paint, compared to just 10 for the Hokies. The Orange also had 14 second chance points in the first half alone.
With eight minutes to go in the half, the Hokies stormed back to take a 26-21 lead off of 10 straight points. Guerrier made a couple of free throws to put the Orange back within three, but the Hokies rattled off a few more points to stay ahead 30-29 with three minutes to go in the half.
Richmond knocked down a step back jumper in the lane to tie the game at 31. After a pair of made free throws from Guerrier and a Buddy Boeheim made three, the Orange were back on top 36-31. A few more back and forth baskets couldn’t stop the momentum the Orange built as they headed into the locker room with a 40-34 lead.
Syracuse made only one three the entire half, but they belittled the Hokies smaller lineup to get into the lane and score easily. Another huge advantage to the game was the fact that the Hokies’ key forward, Keve Aluma was in foul trouble early. He scored only two points the entire first half when he averages almost 15 per game.
The start of the second looked as though the half was bound to be a battle. Aluma hit a jumper in the lane, while Alan Griffin knocked down a three to make the score 43-36. Griffin drove down the floor again and backed his defender down to hit a fadeaway putting the Orange up 45-38.
A few minutes later, the Hokies whittled the lead down to three after a David N’Guessan layup, 47-44. That is as close as the Hokies would get. The Orange went on a tear, with buckets from Guerrier, Griffin, and Joe Girard III after a steal.
The Orange built on their 55-44 lead with 10 minutes to go after back-to-back transition buckets and a three by Griffin, a seven point swing to give the Orange a solid, 61-47 lead. Syracuse never looked back after those Griffin baskets.
After the Orange built on their lead to go up, 67-48 with seven minutes to go, Richmond came back into the game for Guerrier. Guerrier had an impressive night with 20 points and nine assists, a key to the Orange’s domination in the second half.
Richmond made an impression after he subbed in for Guerrier. The freshman scored nine of his 13 points in the last seven minutes of the game. After a layup, two free throws, and a three, Richmond single-handedly built the lead to 74-53.
Richmond scored again for the final points of the game for the Orange, as they went on to a dominant 78-60 win over the Hokies.
Guerrier led the Orange with 20 points, but several contributions were made by other players. Dolezaj scored 18 on the night, and crashed the boards with six rebounds.
Perhaps the most well-rounded player was Griffin. He finished with 15 points, and paired that with 10 rebounds, and a career-high seven blocks.
After the game, head coach Jim Boeheim explained that defense was the key to this matchup. “The defense was the difference, Marek was really good down low,” Boeheim said. “We wanted Marek to go against their bigger guy and he got him in foul trouble, out of his rhythm.”
Boeheim also went on to add that other players stepped up as well. “Quincy just dominated inside. Kadary came in and gave us a lift on both ends. Alan was really good.”
The Orange have another test Monday night at 7 p.m., as they take on Virginia who is ranked 13th in the country and sit atop the ACC standings.