On Tuesday night, the Syracuse Orange played their second-ever conference game as a member of the ACC, their first such game on the road. After struggling in their first ACC showing against the Miami Hurricanes, Syracuse picked up a 20-point victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies by a final score of 72-52.
The struggles that Syracuse showed in that game against Miami did show up again in the first half as the Orange entered the locker room with only a six-point lead against the unranked Hokies. In the second half, however, Syracuse took over.
The defense became much more aggressive and began to overpower the Hokies as they were constantly throwing up long-range shots to avoid shot clock violations. C.J. Barksdale was the only member of the Hokies to score in double-digits with 12. On the offensive end, C.J. Fair led the Orange with a game-high 17 points.
This game is a good sign for Syracuse. If they are going to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament, it is going to be on the back of their defense. Syracuse runs the zone defense better than anybody in the country, and nobody runs it the whole game like they do. This requires teams to totally alter their game plans when they have a meeting with the Orange, something that becomes a lot tougher come tournament time.
They weren’t flawless in this one. Though it was a road game, it wasn’t a very tough crowd, and Virginia Tech is a team that Syracuse should have no problem handling. However, they did struggle in the first half. So Jim Boeheim still has some corrections to make with this team. But, if the defense plays like they did in the second half and Fair does what he can do night in and night out, nobody is going to want to see the Orange in March.