Virginia Tech men’s basketball lost its fifth straight game in Wednesday’s 82-72 thrashing at Syracuse. It’s the eighth loss in nine tries for the program at the JMA Wireless Dome.
Though it was a six-point game at halftime, the Orange (11-6, 4-2 ACC) outscored the Hokies (11-6, 1-5 ACC) 20-4 over the first 7:30 in the second half, extending the lead to 22, 63-41. Tech eventually recovered, ripping off a 10-0 run, but never pulled closer than 10 points throughout the rest of the game.
Grant Basile led the Hokies with 26 points (12-of-17), his best mark since his career-high 30 in the season-opener. He added 10 rebounds, too, good for his third double-double on the year.
Justyn Mutts scored 21 (9-of-15) and had a game-high nine assists. Sean Pedulla and Lynn Kidd each contributed 10 points and combined for 12 rebounds. Pedulla had seven dimes as well.
Five different players scored in double figures for Syracuse, spearheaded by Joe Girard’s 24 (10-of-20). Jesse Edwards (13), Judah Mintz (12), Maliq Brown (11) and Justin Taylor (10) scored 70 of the Orange’s 82. Brown and Edwards brought in 12 and nine boards, respectively, while Edwards led SU with six assists.
In the first half, both teams shot above 50% and little defense was played on either end. Syracuse was 5-of-10 from behind the arc and 17-of-31 (54.8%) from the floor. Virginia Tech wasn’t too shabby itself at 51.7% (15-of-29).
However, the Hokies made just two of their nine 3-point attempts before intermission. For the game, they were 3-of-19 (15.8%), which ties a season-low (Penn State, 3-of-19). Pedulla had two of Tech’s makes (on 11 attempts) while Basile hit the other.
As outlined in the preview leading into Wednesday, point distribution for Syracuse’s opponents is heavily skewed to the three. Even with the debut of Rodney Rice, who finished with two points, three steals and four rebounds, Tech struggled to penetrate the zone. And when it did get good looks, they ricocheted off the rim.
At halftime, the Orange led 43-37 thanks to nine points each from Girard and Edwards. To that point, Tech had only turned it over twice.
What followed in the second half was sloppy basketball. The Hokies wound up with 11 giveaways and made just two of their first eight shots. Over that same stretch, Syracuse was 7-of-16, which is what sparked the 20-4 run.
VT struggled to stop a SU team that was 50.8% from the floor (30-of-59) and eight-of-16 from distance. The rebounding margin was close, 37-36 in Syracuse’s favor, and Tech scored 10 more points in the paint (46-36). But Girard (3-of-7), Taylor (2-of-3) and Chris Bell (2-of-3) each made the Hokies pay over 40 minutes.
Virginia Tech travels to No. 13 Virginia on Wednesday, Jan. 18 for its next game. The Hokies have lost three straight in Charlottesville, though they’ve won two of the last three meetings. After UVa, contests against Clemson (away) and Duke (home) await. They’ll get a rematch with the Orange on Jan. 28 in Cassell Coliseum, too.
Box Score: Link