LeDay and Virginia Tech attack Syracuse’s 2-3 zone in ACC win
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams had faced Syracuse 13 times as a head coach. So he went into Tuesday’s game with a lot of experience in how to attack Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone.
In his latest matchup against the Orange, he chose a more simplistic method of attack — throw the ball to Zach LeDay.
LeDay scored 22 points to help lead Virginia Tech to an 83-73 victory over Syracuse on Tuesday.
LeDay, who had some strong words for his teammates following Saturday’s blowout loss at Florida State, set the tone early with a couple of dunks.
He connected on 9 of 13 from the floor, including a 3-pointer, to help the Hokies (13-3, 2-2 ACC) snap a two-game losing streak and extend their home winning streak to 15 games.
“Any coach will tell you this, if it’s an exclusively coach-led team, there is a level to your success,” Williams said. “But when it becomes a player-led team — because the players know what is right and what is wrong — that changes the level. I thought some of that came to light over past two and a half days, and Zach was a part of that.”
Syracuse (10-7, 2-2) saw its two-game winning streak snapped and its eight-game winning streak over the Hokies end.
Virginia Tech, which fell out of the Associated Press’ top-25 poll following losses to NC State and the Seminoles last week, led just 51-48 after Syracuse’s Tyus Battle hit a 3-pointer with 10:39 left in the game, but the Hokies went on an 8-0 run and weren’t threatened again.
They led the entire second half, with LeDay scoring 13 in the final 20 minutes. “I had to step it up, but more so defensively,” LeDay said. “That’s what we were focused on. We were scoring 80 points on the road, but we were giving up 100.”
Justin Bibbs finished with 18 points for the Hokies, who saw five players score in double figures and shot 49.1 percent (28 of 57).
“I think they forgot we won two games in a row because our defense was good,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of his team.
“Our defense was horrendous tonight, and our offense isn’t going to quite be good enough to make up for that level of defense.”
Taureen Thompson led the Orange with 18 points. Tyler Lydon came into the game averaging 13.5 points per game, but scored just two against the Hokies, hitting only 1 of 5 from the floor.
Seth Allen’s return from a head injury suffered in the NC State game helped the depth-shy Hokies, who normally play just eight players. Allen, who missed the Florida State game, scored 11 points and had five assists.
Virginia Tech turned the ball over a combined 36 times in losses to the Wolfpack and the Seminoles last week. Against Syracuse, the Hokies turned it over a season-low six times.
“That’s why we won,” Williams said. “When our turnover rate is low, good things are going to happen.”
Syracuse returns home to the Carrier Dome for a Saturday game against Boston College at 4 p.m.. The Orange will be looking to avenge a 96-81 thumping at the hands of the Eagles on Jan. 1. Virginia Tech plays the second of three straight home games on Saturday when it takes on Notre Dame. The Hokies have beaten the Irish once in the series — in the final of the 1973 NIT.