No. 5 Syracuse 69, Virginia Tech 58
NEW YORK (AP)
C.J. Fair and Dion Waters combined for 21 points in the second half - 19 more than they had in the opening 20 minutes - and No. 5 Syracuse pulled away for a 69-58 victory over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.
Kris Joseph had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Brandon Triche added 18 points for the Orange (5-0), who will play Stanford in the championship game Friday night. The Cardinal beat Oklahoma State 82-67.
Virginia Tech (3-1) controlled the pace of the game in the first half, leading 29-27 after milking the 35-second shot clock on many possessions against Syracuse's famed 2-3 zone defense.
With Fair, who finished with 12 and nine rebounds, and Waiters, who had 11 points, bringing energy off the bench, the Orange looked more like themselves as they started running the court and dominating inside. Syracuse finished with a 36-16 advantage in the paint and scored 42 points in the second half, finally finding the tempo that had helped the Orange average 90 points entering the game.
Waiters and Fair had all but three of the points in a 17-3 run that gave Syracuse a 56-45 lead with 8:15 to play. Fair's dunk on a feed from Waiters gave the Orange their first lead of the game, 44-42, with 12:10 to play.
Virginia Tech used an 8-2 run to get within 56-53 but Fair and Waiters both scored and Triche scored the next five points to put the Orange back in control.
The Orange were again without longtime assistant coach Bernie Fine, who is on administrative leave while charges of sexual abuse against him are under investigation.
With Syracuse having announced it is leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference, this will be a conference matchup in the future