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Deeper Dive: Syracuse Falls at Virginia Tech

Breaking down Syracuse basketball's 83-73 loss at Virginia Tech.

Top Performer: Tyus Battle took a step forward in this one. He scored 13 points, had one assist, one steal and one block. He was solid defensively as well. Maybe the most encouraging part of his performance was his aggressiveness attacking the rim. It seems to be happening more and more each game, which makes him a very difficult player to defend. In fact, if Syracuse continues to have struggles at the point guard position, it may be time to put the ball in Battle's hands more often.  

Bottom Feeder:  After two consecutive strong performances, John Gillon reverted back to the point guard that struggled against quality competition. He was just 2-9 from the field, only dished out three assists to go along with two turnovers, and had several shots blocked at the rim. Gillon also had a poor floor game and did not run the offense effectively. He must play better for Syracuse to get back to their winning ways. 

Stat of the Game: 19-0. In a game Syracuse lost by 10, they were outscored by 19 in fast break points. Syracuse is normally a team that likes to get out in transition. However, it was the Hokies that excelled in this phase of the game. It ultimately was a huge difference in the outcome.

Turning Point: With 10:39 left to play, Syracuse had trimmed the lead to three at 51-48 on a Battle three-pointer. Virginia Tech followed that with an 11-2 run to pull away from the Orange. Syracuse would not get closer than six the rest of the way. 

He Said It: "I think they forgot that we won two games in a row because our defense was good. Our defense was horrendous tonight. Our offense isn't going to quite be good enough to make up for that level of defense." - Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim on John Gillon.

Five Takeaways:

  1. Tyler Lydon struggled mightily in this game, and Syracuse cannot afford those types of performances. He finished with just two points on 1-5 shooting in 29 minutes. Lydon was almost invisible on the court for large stretches of the game. He did land on a Hokie defender on a jumpshot in the first half, and seemed gimpy from that point forward. Still, it was disappointing to see his ineffectiveness. 
  2. Poor point guard play reared its ugly head once again. During the previous two games, Gillon had solidified the position. He took a step back against Virginia Tech, and Franklin Howard was not any better off the bench. The two combined to shoot 3-14 from the floor. They turned it over, made careless plays and struggled defensively. 
  3. Taurean Thompson had a big size advantage, and used that effectively on the offensive side of the floor. He led the Orange in scoring with 18 points and grabbed a career high eight rebounds. Despite finishing with three blocks, Thompson made numerous defensive mistakes. He left players open behind him for easy dunks and layup. Each of his three fouls seemed to result in an and-one situation for the Hokies. Thompson needs to learn to keep his hands straight up, get better with his footwork and have better defensive court awareness.  
  4. Tyler Roberson showed why is an enigma in this game. He had moments where he lacked energy and gave up open shots defensively. He also had moments where he controlled the glass and was a defensive force inside. He needs to be "plugged in Robey" for the entire game in order to maximize his impact. 
  5. The key for this team is defense. When they play it well, they can beat anyone they play. When they play it poorly, as they did Tuesday night, they can lose to anyone. Virginia Tech shot 40% from beyond the arc and 49% overall. Syracuse forced only six turnovers. Those numbers are simply not good enough. 

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