No. 16 Virginia Tech puts streak on the line at Syracuse

Sports

No. 16 Virginia Tech goes for a fourth consecutive victory when it travels to Syracuse, N.Y., for Saturday afternoon’s Atlantic Coast Conference matchup with the Orange.

Since dropping a two-point decision at Louisville on Jan. 6, the Hokies (11-2, 5-1 ACC) have bounced back with wins over Notre Dame, Duke and Wake Forest.

Their scheduled game against Boston College on Wednesday was postponed because of COVID-19 issues on the Eagles, leaving Hokies coach Mike Young’s team in second place in the conference following its hard-fought win at Wake Forest last weekend.

The Hokies blocked a season-high nine shots — three short of the program’s all-time high — in the 64-60 victory over the Demon Deacons.

“We didn’t play great basketball tonight,” Young said. “We won, and the last time I checked, that’s the only thing that matters. I’m proud of them.”

Wofford transfer Keve Aluma has been the go-to guy for the Hokies. He leads the team in scoring (14.8 ppg), rebounding (7.3), and blocked shots (18), ranking among the Top 20 in the league in all three categories.

Tyrese Radford (11.2 ppg) hit the 20-point mark for the second time this season in the win over Wake Forest, and the bench added 28 points, the eighth time this season reserves have contributed at least 25 points in a game.

Jalen Cone is averaging 11.7 ppg in a reserve role after missing the team’s first three games because of an offseason injury. The sophomore guard had a career-high 23 points in the 73-71 loss to Louisville.

“We’ve got a pretty good team,” Young said. “I think we’ve got a chance to be really good. We’re not really good right now. I don’t think it’s anything more complicated than that.”

The Orange (8-4, 2-3) are coming off perhaps their best overall performance of the season. After falling behind 11-2 to start, they dominated Miami for an 83-57 win Tuesday night. Guards Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III, who dealt with COVID issues in an 18-day gap in the Orange’s schedule, scored 23 points each to lead the win.

Three days earlier, the Orange lost at Pittsburgh for the second time in a 10-day span. They also lost at North Carolina 81-75, but routed Boston College 101-63 earlier in conference play.

“We played great at North Carolina. We just couldn’t stop them,” coach Jim Boeheim said. “And there’s a reason. They’re pretty big and very strong and that does hurt us. We played well at Pittsburgh. We just lost our defensive edge in the second half and they just took us out. But every other game this year, we’ve been in every game.”

Boeheim is well aware of what his team faces against the Hokies.

“Obviously, Virginia Tech is playing great,” he said. “It will be a tremendous challenge on Saturday.”

–Field Level Media

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