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Virginia Tech hung around early, but it's tough to have a cold spell against the No. 2 team in the country and have a chance to win.
The Hokies went over eight minutes without a field goal, getting routed by Syracuse 72-52. Overcoming the flu, junior forward C.J. Barksdale led Virginia Tech with 12 points, while Orange ACC pre-season player of the year, C.J. Fair, had a game-high 17 points.
"I told the guys, we played good for a period of time," coach James Johnson said. "But against teams like that, you can't play good for three minutes and then have a four-minute lull. You've gotta be consistent for 40 minutes."
A pair of three-pointers from senior forward Jarell Eddie and freshman guard Ben Emelogu gave the Hokies their first lead of the game. Eddie's three-pointer gave him 1,000 points for his career, becoming the 44th player in school history to do so. Throughout the rest of the first half, some timely threes kept them in the game.
After that short-lived lead, Syracuse went on a 22-7 run to take a 27-15 lead and force a Virginia Tech timeout with 8:05 to play in the first half. But the Hokies dug in and a slam dunk off an outlet pass by Barksdale closed the gap to 28-20 and got a roar from the crowd.
Barksdale and sophomore forward Marshall Wood didn't even look like they'd see the floor after battling the flu yesterday. But along with junior guard Adam Smith's return from a calf injury, Barksdale and Smith came up with some big plays in the first half.
"I felt good, but it was questionable," Smith said. "I practiced for three or four days and just felt good, so I went with my gut feeling and my leg held up."
Smith especially kept Virginia Tech in the game, with nine points in the first half, all on three-pointers. His three-pointer with 1:12 cut the Hokies' deficit to just 35-29. And thanks to the Orange going the final 5:50 of the first half without a field goal, the teams went to halftime with that score.
Barksdale, meanwhile scored Virginia Tech's first six points of the second half on a trio of tough lay-ins in the lane. Syracuse pushed its advantage back to nine before Eddie connected on a three-pointer to cut the lead to 44-38 with 15:42 to play. Emelogu's bank shot closed the gap to 44-40 with 14:44 left.
But the Orange responded immediately, as a 16-0 run gave them a commanding 60-40 lead with 6:46 to go. During that time, Virginia Tech went almost eight and a half minutes without a field goal. Sophomore forward Joey Van Zegeren finally ended Syracuse's run with a slam dunk, to make the deficit 60-42, but the game was well in hand by that point.
"I mean, when shots don't fall, that's what happens," Smith said. "It's tough to score against a zone when you're not shooting the ball well."
The Hokies fall to 8-6 on the season and host Boston College at noon ET Saturday.
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