MBB : Syracuse defense forces Virginia Tech into tough shots after hot start

first_img Published on November 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjr NEW YORK — Virginia Tech’s hot shooting bloomed right from its first possession of the game. Jarell Eddie’s 3-pointer put the Hokies on top from the start, and Erick Green followed minutes later by knocking down a 3 over Brandon Triche to give the Hokies an early six-point lead over Syracuse.The Orange’s 2-3 zone didn’t let Virginia Tech inside too much early. But the Hokies outside shooting gave them an early cushion against an SU team that was burdened offensively.‘They were shooting the heck out of the ball today, man,’ SU guard Dion Waiters said. ‘And when you’re watching film, sometimes you just say, ‘Oh, he really can’t shoot, he’s just shooting on that team.’‘So I think we came out, we kind of underestimated them today and we had to pay for it in the first half.’Eventually, Syracuse’s long bodies forced Virginia Tech into bad shots and tough situations at the end of the shot clock. The Hokies inability to get inside Syracuse’s zone, and the lack of easy baskets allowed by the stingy Orange defense helped No. 5 Syracuse (5-0) come away with a 69-58 victory in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. After making seven of their first 10 shots, the Hokies (3-1) made just 35 percent (13-of-37) of their shots the rest of the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGreen, who led Virginia Tech by hitting four 3-pointers, said his team didn’t get enough penetration. And Eddie, who led the Hokies with 17 points, said the length of SU’s zone took its toll.‘Definitely mentally,’ Eddie said. ‘They take so much space up on the back line and it pushes us out offensively and kind of pushes us away from what we’re trying to do offensively.’The Hokies moved the ball with quick passes around the perimeter in their halfcourt offense, as the big men ran across the baseline and high post, trying to find a gap to get the ball inside. Most of the time, Syracuse guards Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche were able to keep Virginia Tech from penetrating.But early on, the Hokies just hit shots over the zone. Up 18-13, Virginia Tech neared the shot clock buzzer when Eddie was blanketed by Kris Joseph, But he somehow was able to get a shot off around Joseph’s long arms, sinking a deep field goal as the shot clock expired.Later, Green hit a 3 to put Virginia Tech up 27-20. Triche didn’t close well on the right wing, but the shot was still a result of the Hokies’ inability to drive into the heart of the Orange defense.‘Our defense was good,’ Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘It’s not that easy to score inside on us. I thought they attacked us very well. They shot 42 percent from the 3. That’s more than almost anybody shoots against us.’Still, Virginia Tech’s red-hot shooting was bound to hit an icy patch eventually. And with the Hokies only building a two-point lead at the half — thanks to nine first-half turnovers — the cold spot meant Virginia Tech would give up its lead.Turnovers played a key part in Syracuse’s second half run as well. Immediately after Syracuse took the lead, 44-42 — and right out of a Hokies timeout — Victor Davila put too much oomph behind a pass that flew into the backcourt and out of bounds.And when Virginia Tech tried getting inside, SU center Fab Melo made his presence felt. Two key assertive blocks early in the second half kept the Hokies from finding their touch offensively.‘We had opportunities,’ Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg said. ‘We didn’t embrace some of the opportunities and they took advantage of others. I can look back in this game and say we melted.’As Syracuse pulled away down the stretch, the Hokies wilted. The No. 5 team in the nation displayed its talent while a Virginia Tech team trying to find itself after losing its two leading scorers from last season cowered.Dorenzo Hudson tried to force an inbounds pass that was tipped and stolen, leading to a Waiters 3-pointer. Down 50-45, Eddie lost the ball as he tried to create a shot with the shot clock winding down. The scramble for the ball between Triche and Dorian Finney-Smith ended with the shot clock buzzer going off, giving possession to SU.While the game was too close for Syracuse’s comfort, the Orange still put forth a sound defensive performance.‘I think we forced some turnovers,’ Boeheim said. ‘We won that battle. But they moved the ball, they were very patient and they shot pretty well. That can lead to an upset.’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more