A win is a win, but it was in ugly fashion.
Syracuse held on to defeat Virginia Tech 68-66 on Saturday, but it went down to the final seconds.
The Orange led the Hokies by 19 at the half, and by 17 with 15 minutes left in the second half. Of course when the final buzzer sounded, the Hokies came up two points short.
The Orange offense struggled in the second half, but the Hokies offense did not. Virginia Tech scored 43 points in the second half and rallied around 41 percent shooting from three. That was a concern coming into this game, where Justin Bibbs was a man to be worried about. Bibbs finished with a career high 22 points and was 4-for-8 from three. The freshman was able to break through the SU zone to keep the Hokies in the game.
Trevor Cooney helped Syracuse grab its big lead at the half. Cooney had only four of his 18 points in the second half, which contributed to the rise of blood pressure throughout Orange Nation. One of the concerns going into conference play was whether Cooney would stay hot. He entered the game 11 of his last 22 from three, but showed the immediate switch from non-conference to ACC play was not too drastic of a change.
There is a major takeaway from this game: do not take lesser opponents lightly. This year’s team is not atop the conference. It is floating right around the middle of the group. Virginia Tech is projected to finish last in the ACC, so SU is going to face tougher opponents.
The zone has to be better. There are other great shooters in the ACC besides Bibbs. Allowing a freshman to score 22 is going to hurt Syracuse in future games.
Free throws is what almost hurt Syracuse. The Orange only made 16 of 28 free throws, and Ron Patterson missed two crucial ones in the final four seconds, which could have resulted in a disappointing loss for Syracuse. This was a game of the little things not going well, specifically in the second half.
Posted: ¬†Austin Pollack