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Syracuse 68 - Virginia Tech 66: Five Big Takeaways

What did we learn in yesterday's SU-VT game?

Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

In their ACC opener, the Syracuse Orange traveled to Blacksburg and held off the Virginia Tech Hokies 68-66 on Saturday. Here are five big takeaways:

1. Syracuse has the potential to be really good.

The Orange played as well as they have all season in the first half yesterday, scoring 42 points and turning the ball over just twice, while also holding the Hokies to 27 percent shooting. Syracuse moved the ball exceptionally well, as evidenced by its 11 assists on 16 field goals, and allowed nothing easy for Virginia Tech on the other end. If SU can play like that consistently this season, it's more than capable of competing in a rugged ACC.

2. Unfortunately, the Orange are also capable of being not so good.

The second half proved as much, when Syracuse's lead nearly diminished completely. The 19-point advantage held at halftime was just a two-point lead with six minutes left, and after the Orange re-extended their lead to 11 with just over two minutes to play, it was again reduced to a one-possession game in the final minute. Simply put, the Syracuse team that showed up for the second half yesterday isn't a good team. The Orange couldn't make a shot (7-of-22 from the field) and surrendered far too many open looks, which the Hokies capitalized on -- as will most teams in this conference. If Syracuse plays like that very often this season, the only postseason it'll see will be the NIT, and even that might be thinking optimistically.

3. Tyler Roberson keeps getting better.

For much of yesterday, Tyler Roberson was the best and most active player on the floor. He finished with 11 points and 17 rebounds, the latter of which matched a career-best. And in a two-point game, those 17 rebounds were crucial to Syracuse's win.

Very quietly, Roberson has been playing much better as of late, resembling anything but the player who found himself in Jim Boeheim's doghouse at the beginning of the season. In the past six games since recovering from injury, he's shooting 54 percent, averaging nearly nine points per game, and pulling down eight rebounds per game. The rebounding numbers are inflated by two games with 17 boards apiece but, nonetheless, this Tyler Roberson is one Syracuse could use more of.

4. The Orange continue to take good care of the basketball.

Syracuse committed only eight turnovers yesterday and has averaged just 10.3 turnovers per contest over its last four games, all of which have been victories. That's a far cry from the previous four games, when the Orange averaged 17 turnovers per game. No surprise: Syracuse went 1-3 in that stretch. It won't be easy to turn the ball over so infrequently as the competition gets stiffer, but it will be necessary.

5. Syracuse can win a close road game.

Say what you want about the Orange nearly blowing a 22-point lead, but the fact remains that they were in a two-point game with six minutes left, stretched that lead out to 11 points with two minutes left, and probably would've won by double digits if they had made some free throws. That's obviously a big "if," but free throws are something this team shouldn't have as much issue with as it did yesterday. And even with its struggles at the charity stripe, Syracuse still managed to tough out a close win on the road against an ACC, Buzz Williams-coached team. Perfect? No, of course not. But it also wasn't all bad.