The Orange (14-7, 5-3 ACC) are coming off a loss to the No. 12-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, who were outplayed for 30 minutes last Monday at the Dean Smith Center, but rallied in the final 10 to takedown SU. Trevor Cooney scored a team-best 28 points for Syracuse, while Rakeem Christmas added 22 points and 12 rebounds. Christmas has scored in double figures in 20 of the Orange's 21 games.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech (9-12, 1-7) lost at the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 73-70, on Saturday. Six Hokie players scored in double figures, as Adam Smith led the pack with 12 points. Both Devin Wilson and Ahmed Hills netted 11.
This will be the second meeting between the two programs this season. SU defeated Va. Tech, 68-66, in the ACC opener for both schools on Jan. 7. Sophomore forward Tyler Roberson collected a team-best 17 rebounds for the Orange, who were paced by Cooney's 18 points.
Syracuse's layoff came at seemingly the right time, as the team has been reeling because of its lack of roster depth. On Monday, Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said the time off was very helpful in preparing for his team's upcoming schedule, which features three winnable games in eight days.
"We are glad we had a week off," said Boeheim. "We needed the time to, I think, get rested and work some things. I think it will help us."
After starting ACC play winning five of their first six games, the Orange have dropped three of their last four. None of the losses have came against teams with less than .500 records in league play, but SU is still searching for a big victory to put on its NCAA resume.
A victory Tuesday will not be a big one, instead, it will be a stop-gap before SU plays its gauntlet of a schedule, which features games against No. 4 Duke, No. 9 Louisville, No. 10 Notre Dame and No. 3 Virginia. A loss would be a big blow to the Orange's postseason aspirations.
|Virginia Tech Starters||Class||Height||Weight||PPG||RPG||APG||MPG|
On the other side of the court, the Hokies will be without senior Will Johnston, who had a a soft-tissue surgical procedure on his right elbow on Monday. Johnston netted seven points in 14 minutes in his team's first meeting against SU.
With the loss of Johnson, Virginia Tech will see the return of freshman guard Justin Bibbs, who hasn't played in four games due to a concussion suffered in practice prior to the team's UNC game. Bibbs scored a team-best 22 points against Syracuse.
The Hokies lone victory in the ACC came against the Pittsburgh Panthers. VT was sparked by Adam Smith, who made six of his 11 three-point attempts. Smith finished with a team-high 26 points and is averaging 17.8 points over his last three games.
Bibbs and Smith are 1-2 on the team in scoring, as each are averaging more than 13 points per game. No other player on the Hokies is averaging more than 10 points.
|Record||14-7, 5-3||9-12, 1-7|
In comparing the two teams, Syracuse is a better scoring team, but, not by much. The Orange are averaging 67.1 points during conference play, while Virginia Tech is netting 63.0, the fourth-worst average among the 15 teams. Both teams play steady defense too, as SU is allowing just 67.1 points, while VT is giving up 71.9 ppg.
The Hokies do shoot the ball well from behind the 3-point line, as they're making 36.5% of their attempts during league play. However, they're the worst rebounding team in the league as they rank dead last in both offensive and defenisve rebounding.
Game Time: 9 p.m.
Television: ESPNU–Tom Hart (play-by-play), Tim Welsh (color)
Radio: Syracuse IMG Radio Network
RPI Rankings: Syracuse–68; Virginia Tech 203.
What A Win Means For Syracuse: This is a can't lose game for the Orange, who really can't gain anything with a victory but could lose a ton of RPI points with a loss. Hopefully, Syracuse can get out to anther 22-point lead on Virginia Tech–something they did in the first meeting–and hold onto an easy win. However, VT has proven to be a tough out.
Meaningless Prediction: Syracuse 58, Virginia Tech 50
The Hokies could get hot from behind the three-point line, and that will be the difference in a tight game or a blowout victory for the Orange. But, this should be nice, home victory for SU, which should be nice a rested.
|At Pittsburgh||Sat. 2/7||4pm||ACCN|
|At Boston College||Wed., 2/11||7pm||ESPN2|