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Syracuse travels to Blacksburg for second battle with Virginia Tech

Syracuse’s Joe Girard III (#11, White) scored 24 points in an 82-72 win against Virginia Tech on January 11, 2023.

Syracuse Men’s Basketball (13-8, 6-4 ACC) has a chance for its first Quad 1 win at Virginia Tech (12-8, 2-7 ACC) on Saturday. Earlier this month, SU handled VT for its only Quad 2 victory so far this season. Guard Joe Girard III torched the Hokies for 24 points on 50% shooting. In fact, the entire Orange offense had one of its most efficient games in ACC play. The ‘Cuse nailed 51% of its shots from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. Five Syracuse players finished in double figures, including three freshmen in Judah Mintz (12), Maliq Brown (11), and Justin Taylor (10). Brown also logged his first career double-double; the Virginia native snatched 12 rebounds.

Virginia Tech received a couple strong individual performances despite the loss. Wright State transfer Grant Basile netted 26 points (12-17 FG), his most in a conference showdown so far. Versatile forward Justyn Mutts added 21 points (9-15 FG) and a season-best nine assists. But ultimately, a poor shooting night did VT in. The Hokies shot just 3-19 from distance, including 1-10 on threes in the second half. In particular, Tech guard Sean Pedulla went ice-cold and made 2-11 from deep in his only career game attempting double-digit threes.

The Hokies’ woes from downtown were directly related to the absence of their best shooter, Hunter Cattoor. Last year’s ACC Tournament MVP missed four games with a forearm injury, the last being against SU. Without the career 41.5% three-point sharpshooter, VT went 0-4 and shot 27% from the perimeter. Since Cattoor’s return, Tech has snapped a seven-game losing skid and canned 41% from range. The senior was good for 15 points off five trifectas in Virginia Tech’s much-needed 78-75 win over Duke on Monday. Basile once again got it done with a team-high 24 points (10-15 FG) and eight boards. Padulla provided a well-rounded effort with 16 points (4-8 FG, 3-5 3PT), five assists, and two steals. The triumph improved VT’s record inside the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum to 9-1.

Syracuse’s Judah Mintz (#3, White) notched 17 points in a 72-68 loss against North Carolina on January 24, 2023.

The ‘Cuse couldn’t seal the deal in its own building with UNC in town on Tuesday. SU held a two-point advantage after a Girard triple with 83 seconds left. The Tar Heels, however, proceeded to score the final six points thanks in part to three fouls and two turnovers from the Orange. First, center Jesse Edwards fouled out with 21 ticks on the clock. North Carolina’s Pete Nance went to the line where he made his first and missed his second. Then, JG3 failed to grab the rebound. With the ball headed out of bounds toward the baseline, Girard swatted it back in play. Unfortunately, the senior sent it straight into the hands of Nance, who was all alone for the go-ahead layup.

Down one with 19 seconds remaining, guard Judah Mintz had the ball in his hands. UNC pressed and the freshman dashed to the hoop. The Maryland native proceeded to be whistled for charge, and after a review, a flagrant foul. For the second time in the last three games, Mintz came up short with under 15 seconds to go and the Orange down one possession. As a result, SU’s 2-2 in its last four following a stretch that saw the ‘Cuse win eight of its previous 10.

Game time between Syracuse and Virginia Tech is at 7:00 p.m. WAER goes live at 6:30 p.m. with McClurg Team Countdown to Tipoff.