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Virginia Tech basketball: Hokies defeat Syracuse 85-70

The Hokies have now won two in row after a seven-game losing streak.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Virginia Tech Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies started fast on Saturday night against the Syracuse Orange and cruised past to a relatively easy 85-70 win. It was a rematch from 18 days ago, where Syracuse prevailed with an 82-72 win.

Virginia Tech was red hot from the field in the first half, making 20 of 32 field goals, including 11 of 20 from 3-point range. Senior guard Hunter Cattoor had eight shot attempts in the first half — all from beyond the arc — making five. Cattoor finished the game with 20 points and eight assists.

With junior guard Darius Maddox out attending to a family matter, freshman MJ Collins made the most of his opportunity, starting his first career game, playing 35 minutes and scoring a career-high 11 points. In addition to Collins’ strong night on offense, he played excellent defense and is carving out an important role in Virginia Tech’s rotation.

It was senior forward Grant Basile who led the Hokies, scoring 25 points while also pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out five assists. Basile has scored in double figures for four consecutive games.

Senior Justyn Mutts was terrific, too, finishing with 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Virginia Tech’s offense was so outstanding that leading scorer Sean Pedulla scored only six points. Pedulla played just 17 minutes as he was in foul trouble.

With Maddox out and Pedulla in foul trouble, the biggest beneficiary outside of Collins was sophomore forward John Camden. Camden played 27 minutes for the Hokies and scored 11 points, which were both a season-high for him. Camden providing key minutes is good news for Young, perhaps giving the Hokies more depth down the stretch.

The win improves the Hokies to 13-8 on the season and 3-7 in ACC play. It was Tech’s second consecutive win after losing seven in a row. Things do not get easier for VT as there is a Tuesday trip looming to No. 20 Miami, which sits at 7-4 in conference play.