With the win, SU moves to 1-0 in the ACC and 12-2 overall.
Tech attempted to rely heavily on three-point shooting in the first half, but the shots failed to fall. They hit just four in the first 20 minutes, and trailed 32-19 before the break. Syracuse trotted out a balanced scoring attack, with Oshae Brissett, Frank Howard and Tyus Battle all scoring 17 or more.
Though the Orange led by 13 at the half, the Hokies didn’t just go quietly. Some strong outside shooting and SU’s mistakes closed the gap to just three at one point. But then seemingly like “always” this season, the defense helped create offense on the other end. Syracuse would sprint out to a 17-point lead on the strength of forcing bad shots and turnovers. Matthew Moyer was also a force on the boards, teaming with Brissett to clean up the glass all evening for SU. They combined for 22 of the Orange’s 39 rebounds.
Jim Boeheim played just six in this one, riding Paschal Chukwu for much of the game at center despite him having at least three fouls for most of the second half. Howard Washington was not utilized at point guard, and Marek Dolezaj was your lone bench contributor to see the floor.
Most surprising for SU may have been the team’s relatively good shooting from the field (around 49 percent) and another game of hitting over 75 percent of their free throws. Though last game’s hero, Chukwu, posted an 0-fer, Brissett led the way nailing 9-of-10 from the line.
While it was far from unreasonable to think Syracuse would win this game (they were favored by Vegas), winning in this fashion is both surprising and encouraging. The Orange shut down a quality shooting team in all aspects of the game, survived a second-half run and then cranked up the pressure themselves to establish the needed distance to grab the victory.
SU’s shooting is obviously key here. But it really is the defense and the capabilities of the zone which helped spell this win. Tech came in shooting better than 50 percent from the floor, yet were held to just 35.3 percent vs. Syracuse.
The 1-0 start is nice, but plenty more work to be done as the Orange will be fighting for an NCAA Tournament spot. Beating a team thought to be ahead of them in this year’s league standings is a good way to begin that journey.