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Syracuse men’s basketball: Hokies decimate Orange defense in 85-70 loss

VT made 13 threes and led by double-digits the entire second half in the rout.

Syracuse v Virginia Tech Photo by Ryan Hunt/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange were completely outplayed in the first half, and Maliq Brown’s first career start was not a night to remember in an 85-70 blowout loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies. SU’s seniors Jesse Edwards and Joe Girard were both non-factors as ‘Cuse drops yet another game it desperately needed to get into any Tournament conversation.

Brown did get the Orange scoring started with a dunk, and Justin Taylor drained a three for the first lead (8-7) of the night. But after an Edwards dunk made it 10-9, the Hokies went on a 9-0 stretch to take the lead permanently. Jesse had also racked up two fouls by this point, forcing Mounir Hima into action early.

The zone’s three-point defense was just horrendous in the first half, conceding 55% (11/20) of the deep shots VT attempted. Those 11 threes are noticeably more than the team’s average per game (7.8). Hunter Cattoor led the way by shooting 5/8 from deep in the first 20 and finishing 6/10.

Charleston Southern v Virginia Tech Photo by Ryan Hunt/Getty Images

VT widened the lead all the way to 52-33 heading into the locker room. It’s Syracuse’s largest halftime deficit of the season. The Hokies also added 18 assists in the first half alone and ended up with 28; for reference, SU has topped out at 20 in conference play so far.

A 2nd half press forced a few turnovers and started to get the Orange back into striking distance, but it was ultimately too little, too late. Even though the Hokies were not nearly as active from the arc by this point, they maintained a comfortable lead: as much as 22 points at one point.

Justyn Mutts’ dunk with 5:18 to go was the exclamation point in an overall embarrassing performance for Syracuse.

Judah Mintz had an overlooked game, scoring 21 total points and making a pair of threes. Brown had 11 and Justin Taylor one-upped him with 12, but both Edwards and Girard did next-to-nothing until well into garbage time. The team’s 26 rebounds were the fewest all season.

At this point, it’s a serious question to wonder if this team will once again fall short of even making the NIT. They’ve got No. 7 UVA coming to the Dome Monday night, so there better be a quick turnaround production-wise or we could end up watching another ugly one.