NEW YORK -- Syracuse showed its depth and its ability to
take over a game by getting out in transition.
The fifth-ranked Orange shook off a slow first half and was able
to pull away for a 69-58 victory over Virginia Tech on Wednesday
night in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square
"We still have a long way to go and we can become a better team
but we're not there for sure," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.
"It's going to take some time. We do have the potential but as we
saw tonight we have a lot to do."
Kris Joseph had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Brandon Triche
added 18 points for the Orange (5-0), who will play Stanford in the
championship game Friday night. The Cardinal beat Oklahoma State
82-67 in the semifinals.
Reserves C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters combined for 21 points in
the second half -- 19 more than they had in the opening 20 minutes --
to lead Syracuse's rally.
"When guys, the veteran guys, aren't doing exactly what they're
supposed to, (Waiters) comes in and provides a great spark for us
and he brings the atmosphere and the crowd got into it," Triche
Virginia Tech (3-1) controlled the pace of the game in the first
half, leading 29-27 after milking the 35-second shot clock on many
possessions against Syracuse's famed 2/3 zone defense.
With Fair, who finished with 12 and nine rebounds, and Waiters,
who had 11 points, bringing energy off the bench, the Orange looked
more like themselves as they started running the court and
dominating inside. Syracuse finished with a 36-16 advantage in the
paint and scored 42 points in the second half, finally finding the
tempo that had helped the Orange average 90 points entering the
"I thought Virginia Tech did a great job against our defense,
moving the ball and getting it to the right guy," Boeheim said.
"Our problem was on offense, we just didn't get anything going.
Kris helped us in the first half and then Dion got going and I
thought C.J. Fair was really good in the second half."
Jarrell Eddie had 17 points for the Hokies, while Erick Green
added 14 and Dorenzo Hudson 13.
Waiters and Fair had all but three of the points in a 17-3 run
that gave Syracuse a 56-45 lead with 8:15 to play. Fair's dunk on a
feed from Waiters gave the Orange their first lead of the game,
44-42, with 12:10 to play.
Virginia Tech used an 8-2 run to get to 56-53 but Fair and
Waiters both scored and Triche scored the next five points to put
the Orange back in control.
"I thought we played really competitive basketball except for
that one little 4-, 5-minute stretch," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg
said. "We competed as we as we needed to offensively and then we
got soft defensively. We shot ourselves in the foot. The turnovers
"You play games like these to see where you are and where they
are is where we're trying to get to. I saw a lot of positive
The Orange were again without longtime assistant coach Bernie
Fine, who is on administrative leave while charges of sexual abuse
against him are under investigation.
The players said they approached this trip just as they have all
the others to New York City.
"I think we're always comfortable here," Triche said. "We're
doing some of the same things. We're not changing any formats. We
are trying to make it as normal as possible."
With Syracuse having announced it is leaving the Big East for
the Atlantic Coast Conference, this will be a conference matchup in