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Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Rapid Reax: Syracuse 69, Virginia Tech 58

By Kieran Darcy, ESPN New York

NEW YORK -- A quick take on No. 5 Syracuse's 69-58 victory over Virginia Tech in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals at Madison Square Garden:

What it means: Syracuse improves to 5-0 on the season and advances to the tournament championship game. Coach Jim Boeheim said before this game that his team hadn't been challenged yet this season -- well, it was challenged tonight, and it passed the test.

The skinny: Virginia Tech, picked to finish sixth in the ACC, got out of the gate fast -- in fact, the Hokies led for the entire first half. Their largest lead was 7, but Syracuse cut the halftime deficit to 29-27 on a C.J. Fair bucket right before intermission. Jarell Eddie, who was scoreless in Virginia Tech's last game, had 9 first-half points to lead the Hokies. Kris Joseph kept Syracuse in the game with 12 first-half points and 6 rebounds.

Syracuse finally took its first lead of the game on a Fair dunk with 12:11 remaining in the game. That was part of an 11-0 run that brought the Orange from down 42-39 to up 50-42 and in firm control. Dion Waiters scored 9 consecutive points in one second-half stretch for Syracuse. Virginia Tech never got closer than 5 points down the stretch.

Multiple weapons: This Syracuse team is extremely deep -- so many different people can hurt you offensively. In this one, Joseph was the main man with 20 points, but Brandon Triche (18), Fair (12) and Waiters (11) were all in double figures -- the last two coming off the bench. Joseph and Fair also had 10 rebounds apiece. Scoop Jardine had just 2 points on the night, but the Orange were just fine. Virginia Tech had a balanced attack as well, with three players in double figures, led by Eddie with 17 points.

Stat crunch: Syracuse got 11 more shots from the field in this game. The Orange had just 9 turnovers, while the Hokes had 16. And SU won the rebounding battle 32-27, including 12-8 on the offensive glass.

What's next: Syracuse will play Stanford in the championship game Friday at 5 p.m. ET. Virginia Tech will play Oklahoma State in the consolation game at 2:30.