After losing by 20+ points at Virginia and North Carolina, many wondered how good Virginia Tech really was especially given the fact that their four ACC wins were against teams with a combined 6 conference wins. Tonight, the Hokies had an opportunity to show that they were still a very good basketball team against a Syracuse team that was 5-1 in the ACC including a win at Duke.
And they did just that led by a historic performance from Justin Robinson.
No. 10 Virginia Tech used a 23-5 run in the first half and 14-1 run in the second half to pull away from Syracuse on their way to a dominant 78-56 win. With the win, the Hokies improved to 16-3 overall and 5-2 in the ACC while Syracuse fell to 14-6 overall and 5-2 in the ACC.
Virginia Tech's three-point shooting as great in the first half as they opened 10-19, largely due to Robinson going 7-8 from 3, before finishing the evening shooting 46.7% from 3. Virginia Tech also moved the ball extremely well with a single-game school record 23 assists compared to only 7 for Syracuse. Additionally, the Hokies had a 19-8 points off turnovers advantage while only having 1 less offensive rebound (9-8) than Syracuse.
Player of the Game: Justin Robinson
Could it be anyone else? Justin Robinson had a game to remember with 35 points and 8 assists including a 24-point first half on 7-8 shooting from three-point range during the opening 20 minutes. Robinson simply seem to be physically able to miss for much of the first half while taking over as a passer.
With his performance, Robinson broke the career school record for assists with Bimbo Coles. Additionally, Robinson's 9 three-pointers broke the Hokies' single-game record for most three-pointers made in a game while also having a career single-game scoring high with his 35 points.
Overall, Robinson put together what will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, individual performances in the history of Cassell Coliseum.
Ahmed Hill had a strong night himself with 16 points and 6 rebounds including a pair of impressive dunks. On a night where Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kerry Blackshear were quiet from the field, Hill stepped up as a secondary option with a great performance of his own.
Attacking the Syracuse 2-3 zone presents some challenges and can lead to lots of three-points shots with the first 7 made shots for Virginia Tech and Syracuse being three-pointers. Syracuse kept it as close as 14-11 early, but Virginia Tech used a 26-8 run to take a 40-19 late in the first half. From there, the Hokies held on to their massive margin for a 43-24 lead at halftime.
Justin Robinson had the first half of his life with 24 points on an absurd 7-8 shooting from three-point range, surpassing his single game high for the 2018-19 season. Robinson simply couldn't miss making threes from wherever and whenever at will regardless of how well covered Robinson was when he took his shot.
Outside of Robinson, Virginia Tech had a significant 13-2 advantage in points of turnovers. Additionally, the Hokies had a 5-4 offensive rebounding advantage despite the Orange's size advantage while forcing 9 turnovers (though the Hokies had 7 of their own). Defensively, Virginia Tech also forced 3 shot clock violations from Syracuse as their defense had a significantly improved first half.
Syracuse came out strong to start the second half with a 11-0 run that cut the Hokies' lead to 43-35 including a VT timeout after the Orange made it an 8-0 run. Virginia Tech was able to not only stop the bleeding, but flip the game back the other way with a 14-1 run led by some hot shooting from Ty Outlaw to take a 57-36 lead with just under 10 minutes to go. From there, the Hokies were able to cruise
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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