It was billed as the ACC game of the week as the first-place Syracuse Orange visited the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday night in Blacksburg. Unlike previous losses to Virginia and North Carolina, the Hokies were ready as they easily vanquished Syracuse 78-56.
Tech played, arguably, its best half of the season in the first half and took a 43-24 lead into halftime. Senior guard Justin Robinson was terrific, scoring 24 of his career-high 35 points in the first frame, including seven three-point field goals.
The Orange came out hot in the second half, though, scoring the first 11 points and Cassell Coliseum started to become a little restless. However, it Virginia Tech’s night as the Hokies responded with a 14-1 run to pull away with an insurmountable 21-point lead.
On the game, the Hokies shot 25 of 48 from the field, connecting on 52 percent of their shots. Tech was deadly beyond the arc, shooting 14 of 30 with Robinson hitting an impressive nine of 13 from downtown.
It was a record night for VT’s senior point guard. Robinson finished the game with eight assists and his final one late in the second half broke Bimbo Coles’ school record for career assists. Coles, of course, is one of Virginia Tech’s all-time greats on the hardwood. Robinson also broke teammate Ty Outlaw’s single-game record for three-point field goals made with nine.
Robinson was so good Saturday night it was easy to forget that super sophomore Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored just four points, all from the foul line. Alexander-Walker, the fifth-leading scorer in the ACC, did dish out eight assists and pulled down four rebounds.
When the Hokies play like this, they are a threat to defeat anyone in the country. They were lights out from the field and played a great game defensively. Buzz Williams doesn’t get enough credit for how this squad has played defense this season.
The win moves the Hokies to 16-3 on the season, including a 5-2 mark in ACC play. Syracuse drops to 14-6 and also sit at 5-2 in league play. Currently, the two schools are tied for third in the ACC with a three-way tie at the top with Virginia, Duke and Louisville, while North Carolina is a half-game out with a 5-1 record.
Tech gets a few days off before traveling to Miami on Wednesday night. It starts a stretch of three of four games on the road including trips to Clemson and N.C. State with an all-important home date with Louisville in between.