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Syracuse basketball’s road woes continue with loss at Virginia Tech

The Orange remains winless away from the Carrier Dome.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Syracuse
Syracuse Orange assistant coach Mike Hopkins, forward Tyler Roberson and assistant Adrian Autry react from the bench against St. John’s earlier this season. The Orange lost, 93-60.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange basketball suffered yet another road loss on Tuesday, this time at the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies, 83-73.

It’s been a trend for the Orange this season, much like their poor guard play against higher competition, poor defense and lack of effort/energy.

All of those were in effect on Tuesday, as SU fell to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in league play.

“Virginia Tech moved the ball very well,” SU Head Coach Jim Boeheim said afterwards. “In the second half, they got some very good looks. I thought our interior defense was not good in either half, and that was a big key. Offensively, we didn’t really get anything accomplished that we wanted to.”

Tuesday’s 2-3 zone performance was “horrendous,” according to Jim Boeheim. Mostly due in part to Virginia Tech Coach Buzz Williams’s preparation. The Hokies were able to get the ball underneath the basket to the low post without going through the high post, something that has never happened before, according to Boeheim.

“They were making the direct pass from the perimeter, which has never happened to us,” Boeheim continued. “The forwards were not covering. They just weren’t in position. Our center wasn’t in good position. I think they forgot that we won two won games in a row because our defense was good.”

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Virginia Tech
Syracuse guard Andrew White shoots the ball over Virginia Tech guard Justin Bibbs in the second half at Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies won, 83-73.
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Hokies shot 40 percent (8-for-20) from three-point range, and had five players in double-figures. Zach LeDey led the way with 22 points, which is nearly six above his season average. Justin Bibbs scored 18 and Ahmed Hill had 13 points on three 3-pointers.

This wasn’t the first time Syracuse has struggled away from the Carrier Dome this season. In fact, that’s all they seem to do.

SU fell to 0-5 in games played outside of the Dome, and 0-3 in true road games. The Orange lost games to South Carolina and UConn at neutral sites.

“The point guard play was as bad as it’s ever been today,” a frustrated Boeheim said after the game.

John Gillon played 27 minutes and finished with nine points, three assists and two turnovers. Frank Howard saw some action tonight after sitting out much of the last two games, and he finished with four points and four assists in 13 minutes.

In SU’s last two games — both victories — Gillon was a main reason for the Orange’s success. In those two wins, he combined for 28 points, 22 assists and four steals in 79 minutes. He also hit seven three-pointers.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Virginia Tech
Syracuse guard Tyus Battle takes a jumper against Virginia Tech on Tuesday.
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

But that’s been the story thus far. In the wins, SU has great point guard play, solid defense and the energy/effort level is high. On Tuesday, everything was the opposite, and it showed on the scoreboard.

After two steps in the right direction, Syracuse backpedaled on Tuesday. The road woes continued, and the Orange were back to their old ways. They’ll need to improve their play away from home in a hurry if they have a chance to salvage the season. They host Boston College next, but then travel to North Carolina and Notre Dame.