Virginia Tech drops fifth straight game with 10-point loss to SU hoops

Virginia Tech drops fifth straight game with loss to SU hoops

Freshman Maliq Brown earns his first career double-double.
Published: January 11, 2023 | Updated: January 12th, 2023 at 1:10 pm
Syracuse's Joseph Girard III (11) high-fives teammates Judah Mintz (3) and Justin Taylor (5) after a three-pointer during an ACC basketball game against Virginia Tech Wednesday at JMA Wireless Dome.
Syracuse's Joseph Girard III (11) high-fives teammates Judah Mintz (3) and Justin Taylor (5) after a three-pointer during an ACC basketball game against Virginia Tech Wednesday at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Syracuse basketball (11-6) overpowered Virginia Tech (11-6) in an ACC matchup on Wednesday at the JMA Wireless Dome, 82-72. The Orange delivered the Hokies’ fifth straight loss and fifth consecutive loss against an ACC opponent, all on the road.

Prior to this game, Virginia Tech lost four games in a row by five points or less. The first was against Boston College on Dec. 21 when the Eagles tied it up, taking the game to overtime and beating the Hokies 70-65. 

Wednesday’s game marks the most points given up by the Hokies this season, with 82 total points for SU. The second-most points given up was 77 by Wake Forest against Virginia Tech on Dec. 31, 2022.

Freshman Maliq Brown came off the bench like usual, not starting any of SU’s 17 games this season. In the first half, he scored five points and grabbed five rebounds in under 14 minutes of playing time. 

“[Maliq Brown] stays around the basket. That’s what he does and that’s where the ball is, and that’s where you get some rebounds,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Maliq is doing what we need him to do.”

By the end of the game, Brown recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds in addition to two assists and two steals. He’s one of five Syracuse players who scored in the double-digits – Joseph Girard III (24), Jesse Edwards (13), Judah Mintz (12) and Justin Taylor (10).

“I was extremely focused in,” Brown said. “Knowing that we got to get this dub (win).”

Syracuse's Jesse Edwards (14) passes the ball mid jump as Virginia Tech's Lynn Kidd (15) tries to block during an ACC basketball game Wednesday at JMA Wireless Dome.
Syracuse's Jesse Edwards (14) passes the ball mid jump as Virginia Tech's Lynn Kidd (15) tries to block during an ACC basketball game Wednesday at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Girard nearly tripled his first-half points to end with a total of 24, marking his 10th straight game scoring in the double digits. He shot 50% from the field and 3-7 in 3-pointers.

In the second half, with 13:08 on the clock, Girard scored a layup and successfully made his shot on the foul line for an And-1. He looked over to SU fans and celebrated by flexing his muscles, getting the Dome riled up. Syracuse’s points leader extended the Orange’s lead 61-41.

Center Jesse Edwards was just shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds and recorded a remarkable six assists.

The Orange’s zone defense proved deadly against the Hokies’ 3-point attempts, shooting just 3-19 from above the arc. However, Boeheim believes the team still needs to improve.

“We were a little better defensively in the perimeter,” Boeheim said. “Our offense won us the game today. Our defense was helpful for a while until it wasn’t.”

SU led the Hokies by 22 points with under 12 minutes remaining in the game. But quickly, Virginia Tech went on a 12-3 run to cut the deficit to 13.

Syracuse held on for the win and didn’t allow the Hokies to be within 10 points for the rest of the game.

Despite Hokies forward Grant Basile’s double-double (26 points and 10 rebounds) and forward Justyn Mutts’ 21 points and nine assists, the Hokies fell to 1-5 in the conference, while SU is now 4-2.

Syracuse's Chris Bell (left) leaps to keeps the ball in play before passing it off as Virginia Tech's Darius Maddox (13) watches during an ACC basketball game Wednesday at JMA Wireless Dome.
Syracuse's Chris Bell (left) leaps to keep the ball in play before passing it off as Virginia Tech's Darius Maddox (13) watches during an ACC basketball game Wednesday at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Starting SU forwards Chris Bell and Benny Williams both played under 10 minutes in the game’s entirety. Williams missed Saturday’s game against No. 11 Virginia due to a non-Covid illness, but in tonight’s game he wasn’t on the bench due to illness, according to Boeheim.

“[Benny Williams] didn’t play well,” Boeheim said. “He’s focused on shooting jump shots and he’s not a good enough shooter to shoot a lot of jump shots. We need him to rebound and play defense.”

Bell scored six points and snagged two defensive rebounds but committed two turnovers.

Next up, Syracuse hosts Notre Dame (9-8) on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Fighting Irish are coming off an overtime home win against Georgia Tech on Tuesday.