Women’s basketball opponent preview: What to know about Virginia Tech

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse (22-7, 10-6 Atlantic Coast) opens play in the ACC tournament on Thursday against Virginia Tech (17-12, 6-10). In a 2 p.m. start from Greensboro, North Carolina, the Orange will look to win the battle of the eight and nine seeds. Syracuse should be securely in the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN’s Charlie Creme, and is playing to improve seeding in that more than anything. SU also lost to the Hokies earlier in the season and will get this shot to avenge a home defeat.Here’s all you need to know about the Hokies.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 6-5Last time they played: On Feb. 1 in the Carrier Dome, Virginia Tech handed Syracuse one of two home losses this season, 73-64. Digna Strautmane led the Orange with 20 points and Tiana Mangakahia added 16 points and 13 assists. But an 8-for-43 showing from 3-point range doomed SU. Add in four double-digit scorers for the Hokies, including Taylor Emery with a 20, and that was enough for Virginia Tech to win on the road.The Virginia Tech report: The Hokies’ last two games have both been 30-point defeats. First, then-No. 5 Notre Dame smacked VT and then Miami smoked Virginia Tech. Still, on average, Virginia Tech outscores its opponents by eight points per game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Hokies don’t do anything way better than their opponents this season, except attempt and make 3-pointers. Virginia Tech has taken 214 more 3s than its opponents this season and made 32.5 percent compared to the 31 percent it’s held the opposition to. When SU played VT in the regular season, the teams combined to put up 68 shots from beyond the arc. That’s what both the Hokies and the Orange do.Junior-college transfer Taylor Emery leads the Hokies with more than 17 points per game. On the boards, Regan Magarity grabbed 10 rebounds against SU in the first meeting and averages more than nine per game. And Chanette Hicks runs the show for the Hokies on offense and defense, averaging 4.5 assists and 2.6 steals per game. Hicks also dropped 18 the first time SU and VT met.How Syracuse beats Virginia Tech: For SU head coach Quentin Hillsman’s offense, it’s often as simple as making shots and getting second chances. Hillsman talks about margins: he wants to have taken many more shots than his opponent each game. You do that by forcing turnovers and getting offensive rebounds. That means that SU’s pressure defense will have to stifle Hicks and that Magarity will have to be neutralized on the glass.And making shots is something that the Orange almost couldn’t do in the first game against VT, when it went 1-for-18 in the first half from 3. The cliche of living and dying by the 3 couldn’t be more true than in the Syracuse offense, and it’ll remain true against a good offensive team in the Hokies.Stat to know: 78The first time Syracuse played Virginia Tech this season, the Orange took 78 field-goal attempts. Hillsman wants his team to aim for 75 each game to give themselves a good chance of winning. The problem was that SU made only 24. If Syracuse gets to this shot total again on Thursday, it should almost surely make more and put itself in position to win.Player to watch: Taylor Emery, guard, No. 1Emery is in her first year at Virginia Tech after winning an NJCAA national title last year as Raven Fox’s teammate at Gulf Coast State College. Emery has taken the conference by storm, averaging 17.6 points per game and shooting 39.7 percent from behind the arc. Her effective field goal percentage of 56.9 percent is best on VT, per WOLAbasketball.com.When the Hokies played in the Dome earlier this season, Emery put up 20 on an inefficient 7-for-18. If she can have one of her bigger nights, like when she scored 32 against a Virginia team that beat Syracuse, she could throw the Orange zone into fits. If, in contrast, SU can shut down the Hokies’ leading scorer, it should have a good chance of advancing in the tournament. Comments Published on February 28, 2018 at 8:21 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3last_img