Syracuse's first trip to Blacksburg in 36 years results in win
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP)
Tyler Ennis was standing at the top of the key when he suddenly found himself wide open, and as the small but suddenly energized crowd at Cassell Coliseum looked on, he swished a 3-pointer, one of his three in the game.
''We got a little bit of a lead, and we wanted to extend it as much as possible, keep making stops,'' Ennis said after scoring 13 points for the Orange, whose lead ballooned to 60-40 before a putback dunk by the Hokies with 6:16 to play.
C.J. Fair led Syracuse (15-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) with 17 points, 12 after halftime.
''Once he hit that shot, I knew if we got a couple more stops, we could really step on their throats and run away with this,'' Fair said. ''They didn't score for a long time period, and I think that's when we caught our rhythm on offense.''
Jerami Grant added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Trevor Cooley scored 11 points for the Orange, who were making their first visit to Blacksburg since Jan. 30, 1978. Coach Jim Boeheim remembered only that his team lost that first time.
This time, with the Hokies among the nation's leaders in 3-point shooting, he made sure that wouldn't happen again.
''We decided to extend the defense more probably than we have all year,'' he said of the Orange's famed 2-3 zone. ''The danger when you play them in giving them good looks from the 3-point line. They got 24, but many of them were rushed.''
The Hokies made just seven of those 24 (29.2 percent).
C.J. Barksdale led Virginia Tech (8-6, 1-1) with 12 points and Ben Emelogu and Adam Smith had nine each. The Hokies were outrebounded 41-25 and shot 36.7 percent (18 of 49) to the Orange's 46.7 percent (28 of 60).
Hokies' leading scorer Jarell Eddie (17.4) managed only six points on 2-of-9 shooting.
''That run they made, that was a tough run,'' Eddie said. ''They were scoring every time down, and we couldn't score.''
Syracuse went on its run just after five straight points by the Hokies pulled them within 44-40.
But Ennis hit the 3-pointer to spark the surge, and the Hokies went scoreless for 8-1/2 minutes. Grant and Fair scored four points each in the run and Ennis added another 3. When Joey van Zegeren finally ended the drought with a putback dunk with 6:16 to play, the Orange lead was 60-42 and the suspense was over.
Second-year Hokies coach James Johnson got some help in the way of returning players: Smith returned after missing two games and three of the last five with a strained left calf, and Barksdale and Marshall Wood both played a day after Johnson said he thought they were questionable with flu symptoms.
A 3-pointer by Eddie and Emelogu's short jumper pulled the Hokies within 44-40 with 14:44 to play, but the Orange quickly extended the margin. A three-point play by Grant and Fair's runner in the lane made it 55-40 with 8:24 to go.
The Orange used a 22-7 run to open a 27-15 lead. Cooney and Michael Gbinije hit 3-pointers in the run, and Fair made two jumpers. The Hokies outscored Syracuse 14-8 the rest of the half.