Virginia Tech Comes From Behind To Beat Syracuse 67-63

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Jalen Cone, Virginia Tech
Jalen Cone scored 19 points for Virginia Tech against Syracuse. (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech overcame a double-digit deficit to defeat Syracuse 67-63 in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night.  The Hokies improved to 11-4 overall and 2-2 in the ACC with the victory, while the Orange dropped to 8-7 and 1-3.  It was Tech’s first-ever men’s basketball victory in the Carrier Dome.

When the Hokies fell behind by double figures in losses to Dayton, BYU, Duke and UVA, they lost their composure and ended up losing by bigger margins.  However, when they were struggling in the second half on the road, in perhaps the biggest House of Horrors in the history of Virginia Tech athletics, they responded by going on a huge second half run and coming away with their second ACC road win in three games.

True freshman guard Jalen Cone was the spark that ignited the run.  Playing off the ball instead of his usual point guard position, Cone lit up the Syracuse zone for 19 points, including 16 in the second half.  He had a pair of 4-point plays during that key run that put the Hokies on top.

Tech trailed 38-29 after a Syracuse basket with 13:47 left in the game.  At that point the Hokies had scored only two points in the entire second half after trailing 33-27 at halftime.  It was Cone who took over the game at this point, making the following baskets during Tech’s big run.

12:24: Two free throws, Syracuse 38-31 lead
11:53: 4-point play, Syracuse 40-35 lead
10:43: Three-pointer, Syracuse 42-40 lead
9:48: 4-point play, Virginia Tech 46-44 lead

From Cone’s first free throw at the 12:24 mark to a Landers Nolley free throw with 7:46 left in the game to make the score 52-44 Virginia Tech, the Hokies outscored the Orange 23-6.  They scored 23 points in under five minutes after scoring 29 points for the first 27+ minutes of the game.  Cone also added another key three-pointer with 1:41 left in the game to push Tech’s lead to 60-54.  He was 5-of-7 from the field, all from three-point range, and he made all four of his free throw attempts.  He did it in just 19 minutes of action, most of which came in the second half.

Besides Cone’s heroics, Virginia Tech’s free throw shooting down the stretch played a key role.  The Hokies were 15-of-21 (71.4%) from the charity stripe, with Landers Nolley, Wabissa Bede and PJ Horne all knocking down key free throws down the stretch. 

Despite going just 1-of-11 from three-point range, Landers Nolley still found a way to contribute.  He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.  He had a steal and a breakaway dunk, and that dunk happened to be Virginia Tech’s only non-assisted basket of the game. 

In what could perhaps end up being the stat of the season, the Hokies had 20 assists on 21 made field goals.  Meanwhile, the Orange had just six assists as Tech disrupted the flow of a usually dangerous three-point shooting offense.  Syracuse made just six three-pointers, while for the season 39.1% of their points have come from three-point range, good for No. 28 in the country.

PJ Horne added 12 points for the Hokies and made several critical second half jumpers, not to mention two free throws in the closing minutes.  Junior point guard Wabissa Bede dished out eight of Virginia Tech’s 20 assists.

Tech and Syracuse will meet again in Blacksburg on January 18, but for now the Hokies will return home where they will face the NC State Wolfpack this Saturday in Cassell Coliseum.  Tipoff is scheduled for 2pm, and the game will be televised by RSN.  Check your local listings.

Box Score

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19 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. IIRC, it’s only our second W in any sport at the “Dome”. I think we only beat them once in FB, and it took MV I to earn that.

  2. Great win and a remarkable achievement to win at Jiffy Pop. We had a great team back in ‘76 and a group of us made the road trip to SU. It was (I think) their last season in the old Manley Coliseum and Roy Danforth was the coach. Cuse had made a deep run in the NCAA the year prior. We smoked them 93-79 as I recall. I had a friend on the team who got us tix, about 3 rows behind the VT bench. Cold snowy night; we snuck in a bunch of Genessee Cream Ales in our winter coats. A very memorable road trip and win! That excellent Hokie squad made the NCAA’s but, in a first round game played at ND, frittered away a 12-pt lead down the stretch to eventually lose in OT to W. Michigan. That road trip produced stories for which the statute of limitations has probably not yet expired! 😝

  3. I thought that defensively we were good last night, at some times, really good, and that helped us in keeping our composure until the shots finally started dropping. That intensity was missing in the losses to Dayton and BYU. I think we may be turning a corner here. We were obviously the more physical team and our ball pressure was bothering SU. The “6” in that 23-6 run is a big number in the win. Radford’s 8 defensive rebounds, helping us close out defensive possessions was an absolutely huge statistic in this win. I know Coach Young is known for his offense, but what I saw on defense last night was really encouraging. As for Radford, Coach can’t afford to take him off the floor the way he is owning the defensive boards.

    1. I still find it funny, that Mike Young’s first team at Tech, has a guy named Radford. 😎

  4. Chris….I am surprised you didn’t mention that those were Horne’s first two 3-point attempts of the year. I mean, even the TV crew mentioned it twice!

    1. Heard that and both my wife and I said no way. That was absolutely not true. Horne has been taking 3’s since game 1 of the season. He has been missing some lately – true – but every player we have has been pulling the 3 trigger and has the green light to do so. The announcers need to do better at homework.

      1. I believe they were giving his 3 point stats from last year! He has certainly made more than two 3 point FG this year!

  5. Great confidence builder for a young Hokie team. After playing 3 miserable halfs of basketball on the road, the second half of this game should help to inspire this team and the fans. We’re not there yet but Mike Young can coach and when the ball goes in the basket, this team can compete at a pretty high level. Excited for Cone and his upside potential.
    Very good “team” win. These guys look like they were having fun in the second half and really playing for each other. Good to be back at home on Saturday.
    Beat the Pack, Go Hokies.

  6. This was a nice surprise to wake up to since I turned it off and went to bed about the time Cone started doing his thing. I figured that show was a re-run, but I’m glad it wasn’t.

    It’s cool to see different guys step up each game.

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