Syracuse-Virginia Tech Preview
While its zone defense has been strong enough to get the job done, Syracuse's offense certainly needs some work heading into its first ACC road test.
The second-ranked Orange might be challenged in both areas as they attempt to remain unbeaten Tuesday night at Virginia Tech, which could be short-handed in the first meeting as ACC foes.
Syracuse (14-0, 1-0 ACC), one of six remaining undefeated teams, needed a solid performance from its defense to survive an ugly 49-44 win over visiting Miami on Saturday in its conference debut.
"When you get into league play, you're going to have games like this," coach Jim Boeheim said. "It's not easy. We're going to see this a lot."
After the Hurricanes hit 5 of 11 3-point attempts in the first half, the Orange limited them to 2 for 8 in the final 20 minutes and allowed a season-low point total for the second straight contest.
They've given up a total of 92 points on 36.2 percent shooting - including 14 of 47 from 3-point range - in their last two victories, and haven't allowed an opponent to score more than 65 in the past seven.
Syracuse, however, could be tested as it tries for a third 15-0 start in four years. Virginia Tech (8-5, 1-0) ranks sixth nationally with a 42.5 3-point percentage.
Jarell Eddie, averaging a team-high 17.4 points, leads five players shooting at least 40.0 percent from beyond the arc. The senior forward ranks second in the ACC with a 47.2 3-point percentage and 42 3-point field goals.
Eddie had 17 points and three 3s in an 82-66 win over visiting Maryland-Eastern Shore on New Year's Eve that snapped a two-game skid. He also had 24 points, including a go-ahead jumper with 19 seconds remaining in overtime Dec. 8 in a 61-60 win at Miami in the league opener.
"They're a good basketball team," Boeheim said. "We just need to have a couple good days of work and get ready."
The Hokies may be without two of their top shooters with Adam Smith (strained calf) and Marshall Wood (flu) questionable. C.J. Barksdale, the second-leading rebounder with 5.3 per game, also could be out because of the flu.
Virginia Tech has been tough on the defensive end lately, allowing an average of 62.3 points, a 37.6 field-goal percentage and 28.5 3-point percentage over its last seven games.
Syracuse hopes to bounce back after posting a season low point total while shooting 36.2 percent and missing 12 of 15 from 3-point range Saturday. In the last two games, the Orange have gone 6 for 29 from beyond the arc.
Trevor Cooney had made 43 of 86 (50.0 percent) from beyond the arc before shooting 2 for 12 against the Hurricanes
"That's a weakness we struggle with on offense," Boeheim said. "As a whole we're not a great 3-point shooting team."
C.J. Fair, scoring a team-best 17.4 per game, finished with 15 points and had the go-ahead basket with 4:16 remaining to key the late rally.
Fair finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds in a 69-58 win over Virginia Tech in the most recent meeting Nov. 23, 2011. Eddie led the Hokies with 17 points in that preseason NIT semifinal contest.
Virginia Tech won its last home game against a top 5 opponent, beating No. 1 Duke 64-60 on Feb. 26, 2011.
Syracuse, though, has won the last four meetings by an average of 13.7 points.