Orange Stuffs Hokies on Second-Half Surge

After a blow-by-blow first half, Syracuse was able to pull away from Virginia Tech on the way to a 69-58 win Wednesday at Madison Square Garden to advance to the NIT Season Tip-Off championship Friday against Stanford.

Kris Joseph led all scorers with 20 points; Brandon Triche added 18 and Dion Waiters had nine of his 11 during a second-half run that tilted the game in SU's favor for good.

Syracuse came out of the gates slow offensively as it has seemed to do early this season, but Virginia Tech made the Orange pay more than other teams have. Erick Green and company hit the outside shot to take an early lead that Tech held through the half.

"We didn't recognize Green in the first part of the game," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We left him open.

"But I thought they did a great job attacking our defense. But the problem was on offense."

Tech's hot shooting from the outside, forty percent in the opening 20 minutes, triggered the 29-27 halftime margin.

The Orange utilized turnovers to produce easy buckets, and Joseph got the job done both in the open floor and under duress. He converted a three-point play after one turnover and helped to bring SU back from a pair of seven-point deficits. He was responsible for 12 of Syracuse's 27 first-half points and for half of the team's 12 rebounds at the break.

"I try to make plays for my teammates and myself,"Joseph said. "I'm able to hit open shots and I'm able to drive to the basket."

After the intermission, momentum shifted multiple times as Green and Triche traded three-pointers. Joseph continued to push the pace on offense, often looking for his own shot. With just under 15 minutes left in the game, he buried a step-back jumper to get SU within one point, and the Orange would tie it up two possessions later on another Triche long range shot.

Syracuse then took its first lead of the game on the ensuing possession after a C.J. Fair dunk. Fair buried a three-pointer the next time down the floor and Waiters added another after the SU defense forced a turnover.

The Orange never looked back.

"C.J. Fair was really good," Boeheim said. "That shot was the big shot of the game I thought."

Waiters went on to score nine straight points as the lead ballooned to double-digits, peaking at 12 after a 17-3 run. The Hokies would cut the deficit to five points on multiple occasions, but would not get closer thanks to Waiters and the Orange offense.

"In the second half, coach told me I was going in, and the only thing I said was ‘I got you,'" Waiters said. "Just to know coach (Boeheim) has faith in me…"

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