New York Colleges: Virginia Tech Hokies

Rapid Reaction: VA Tech 59, OK State 57

November, 25, 2011
NEW YORK -- A quick take on Virginia Tech's 59-57 win over Oklahoma State on Friday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

What it means: Virginia Tech takes third place in the NIT Season Tip-Off, after giving No. 5 Syracuse a tough game in the semifinals on Wednesday night. The Hokies are now 4-1 on the season.

Oklahoma State leaves New York City with a pair of losses over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Cowboys are now 3-2.

The skinny: It was a sloppy first half, with both teams shooting less than 38 percent from the field. Oklahoma State jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but Virginia Tech was not down for very long. A 14-0 run by the Hokies turned a 9-7 deficit into a 21-12 advantage. Virginia Tech led by as many as 11, and 32-23 at halftime.

Virginia Tech kept Oklahoma State at bay for most of the second half, but the Cowboys finally cut the deficit to two, 53-51, on a Jean-Paul Olukemi bucket with 3:35 remaining. But they were never able to get over the hump. A couple of potential game-tying shots were off the mark, Markel Brown made a key turnover on another potential game-tying possession, and Virginia Tech pulled this one out.

Center stage: Erick Green had a team-high 18 points for Virginia Tech, shooting 6-for-12 from the field. Freshman Dorian Finney-Smith had 10 points and 14 rebounds, including eight off the offensive glass.

Brown had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma State, but made that critical turnover late. Olukemi chipped in 13 points. Freshman Le'Bryan Nash, ranked the No. 10 high school senior in the country by ESPN last year, went scoreless in just 11 minutes after scoring a team-high 16 against Stanford two days ago.

How 'bout that: Virginia Tech shot just 18-for-57 (31.6 percent) in this game, yet managed to win. How? Well, let's start with a 45-37 advantage on the boards, including 21-14 on the offensive end. The Hokies also shot 30 free throws, making 19 (the Cowboys were 14-for-21), and held the Cowboys to 20-for-49 shooting from the field (40.8 percent).

What's next: Virginia Tech gets back to work quickly, hosting St. Bonaventure on Sunday at 6 p.m. Oklahoma State will host Tulsa on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Rapid Reaction: Syracuse 69, Va. Tech 58

November, 23, 2011

NEW YORK -- A quick take on No. 5 Syracuse's 69-58 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

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

Seth Greenberg's Virginia Tech squad drops its first game of the season -- the Hokies, picked to finish sixth in the ACC this season, are now 3-1.

The skinny: Virginia Tech got out of the gate fast -- in fact, the Hokies led for the entire first half. Their largest lead was seven, but Syracuse cut the halftime deficit to two, 29-27, on a C.J. Fair bucket right before intermission. Jarell Eddie, who was scoreless in Virginia Tech's last game, had nine first-half points to lead the Hokies. Kris Joseph kept Syracuse in the game with 12 first-half points and six 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 gave the Orange control of the game, from being down 42-39 to up 50-42. Dion Waiters scored nine straight points in one second-half stretch for Syracuse. Virginia Tech never got closer than five points down the stretch.

Multiple weapons: This Syracuse team is extremely deep -- so many different people can hurt you offensively. Tonight 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. Scoop Jardine had just two points on the night, but the Orange were just fine.

Joseph and Fair also had 10 rebounds apiece. Fab Melo had five blocked shots.

Virginia Tech had a balanced attack as well, with three players in double figures, led by Ellie with 17 points.

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

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

W2W4: Syracuse vs. Virginia Tech

November, 23, 2011
Here are three things to watch for in Wednesday night's game between No. 5 Syracuse (4-0) and Virginia Tech (3-0), the second semifinal of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.

The game will start at approximately 9:30 p.m., following the first semifinal pitting Stanford against Oklahoma State. The second game will air on ESPNU.

BIG CONTROVERSY: Syracuse is among the top-ranked teams in the country, but what everyone's talking about is the situation regarding longtime assistant coach Bernie Fine. Fine is currently on administrative leave, after molestation allegations resurfaced last week, which Fine denies.

On Tuesday, head coach Jim Boeheim reiterated his support for Fine. We'll see how the crowd reacts to the Orange on Wednesday night. Syracuse always draws a strong crowd at the Garden.

ON THE COURT: The Orange began their season by demolishing four mid-major teams at the Carrier Dome, by an average of 32.5 points. They are averaging 90 points per game as a team.

Three players are currently averaging double figures for Syracuse: 6-foot-8 junior James Southerland (13.8 ppg), 6-foot-4 sophomore Dion Waiters (13.8 ppg) and 6-foot-7 senior Kris Joseph (13.5). But this team is extremely deep, with several other players capable of big-time scoring outputs.

THE OTHER SIDE: Virginia Tech, picked to finish sixth in the ACC in the conference's preseason poll, has won its first three games by double-digit margins. Six-foot-five senior guard Dorenzo Hudson is pacing the team at 19.3 points per game, and poured in 31 in the Hokies' 78-63 win over Florida International that earned them the trip to New York.

But Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg also brought in the No. 12 recruiting class in the country this season according to ESPN's rankings, including three top-100 players. That group is headlined by 6-foot-7 forward Dorian Finney-Smith, ranked the No. 18 high school senior in the country last year, who is averaging 8.3 points, 11 rebounds and 4.3 assists through three games. Fellow freshman Robert Brown, a 6-foot-5 guard, is averaging 11 points per game.