NCAA

Alabama State rallies to beat Virginia Tech 85-82

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Alabama State rallies to beat Virginia Tech 85-82

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Alabama State trailed by 11 in the first half and by 5 at halftime, but head coach Lewis Jackson told his team to keep playing.

The Hornets' fortitude -- and their ability to hit shots -- ultimately rewarded them.

Jamel Waters scored 21 points to lead Alabama State to an 85-82 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Waters hit 6 of 16 from the floor, including four 3-pointers, as the Hornets shot 54.2 percent (13 of 24) and had 11 offensive rebounds in the second half en route to the upset. Bobby Brown added 14 points, while Torlorf Thomas had 13.

Alabama State featured nine newcomers on its rosters and was picked to finish third in the SWAC in a preseason poll conducted among that league's coaches.

"This is a great win for our program," Jackson said. "For these guys to come out and play the way they played tonight, it just showed some of the things we can accomplish if we continue to work hard each and every day in practice and continue trying to get better."

Alabama State, which trailed for most of the first half, tied it three times in the second half before finally grabbing a 67-66 lead on a basket by Brown with 7:18 to go. That started a 9-0 run by the Hornets, who took a 74-66 lead on a putback by Steve Rogers -- their biggest lead of the game -- and never trailed again.

The Hokies cut the lead to 78-74 on a 3-pointer by Seth Allen with 1:32 remaining. Alabama State then called a timeout with 1:10 left.

Out of the timeout, Waters hit a jumper and was fouled by Allen with a minute left. He made the free throw, giving the Hornets an 81-74 lead.

The Hokies cut the lead to 85-82 on a jumper by Justin Bibbs with 17.1 seconds left. The Hornets' Terrance LeFlore then missed two free throws with 9.8 seconds to go, but the Hokies' Seth Allen missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds that would have tied the game.

"There were eight seconds left, and we ran a play that we run all the time," Allen said. "J-Rob (Justin Robinson) pitched it up, and I let it go. It looked good. It just went a little long."

"You don't want to know what I was thinking then," Jackson laughed when asked what he was thinking on Virginia Tech's final possession.

Zach LeDay paced the Hokies with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Allen added 13 points.

Despite hitting 47.4 percent (27 of 57) from the floor, Virginia Tech hurt itself by missing 15 free throws.

But Hokies head coach Buzz Williams was more concerned with what transpired on the other end of the floor.

"If you score 82 points and shoot 40 free throws, you probably should win," Williams said. "I think we have a feel for what we're going to be about offensively, but I don't think we have an identity for what we're going to be about defensively."

The game was part of the Emerald Coast Classic.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies lost a home opener for just the fourth time since Cassell Coliseum was opened and just the second time since joining the ACC for the 2004-05 season. Devin Wilson, who started 28 games last season, did not play because of a minor groin injury. Ahmed Hill did not dress out for the game because of a knee injury and the Tech staff is contemplating a redshirt year for him. LeDay, a transfer from South Florida, became the first Virginia Tech player to record a double-double in an opener since 2013 (Jarell Eddie).

Alabama State: Torlorf Thomas, a junior-college transfer, started and scored 13 points in his debut. Chidozie Omile returned to his home state and scored 7 points. Omile is a Woodbridge, Virginia native.

NO EXCUSES HERE

"I try to have the same mannerisms and tone after a loss that I do after a win, said Hokies coach Buzz Williams. "I think when you get beat, you should just say that you got beat. I don't think there is any way to sugarcoat it that we have a bunch of new guys or not. Those new guys were fine on one end of the floor. I think we should give credit to Alabama State and not say, `Well, we're new,' or anything else."

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays Jacksonville State at home on Wednesday.

Alabama State travels to UAB on Monday.

MORE VIRGINIA TECH: Hokies defense shuts down Georgia Tech: 5 takeaways

Old Dominion stuns No. 25 Syracuse, pulls off Carrier Dome upset

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USA TODAY Sports

Old Dominion stuns No. 25 Syracuse, pulls off Carrier Dome upset

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- B.J. Stith felt it necessary to apologize to his Old Dominion teammates at halftime Saturday after going scoreless and committing five turnovers against Syracuse.

"I made up my mind I couldn't let my guys down," Stith said. "I took full responsibility. No points, five turnovers. I said, `Look, I apologize for how I played in the first half. I'm going to step it up in the second half. Let's do it.' That's exactly what we did and didn't look back."

No apologies were needed after the game.

Stith scored all of his 18 points in the second half on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 10-of-11 at the foul line, and Old Dominion rallied to stun No. 25 Syracuse 68-62.

It was Old Dominion's first win over a ranked team since beating VCU 73-67 in 2014 and the Monarchs' first road win over a ranked team since defeating Georgetown in 2006.

"Number one, (Stith) was self-aware because he was right," Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones said. "In the second half, he wasn't trying to do his own thing. He stayed within the game plan. He got a couple of baskets and a couple of assists, found other guys and played stronger."

Xavier Green had 15 points and Marquis Godwin added 11 for the Monarchs (8-3), who trailed by 13 points late in the first half and by 11 early in the second before rallying for their sixth straight victory.

"What this game showed is that we can play with, if not better, than any team in the country on any given day," Stith said. "To come here into the (Carrier) Dome is a big-time win."

Said Jones: "I don't know what it will do for the program, but it's a certainly good win for our basketball team. Syracuse is a good team. A top 25 team. Doing it in this Carrier Dome. This program is a storied program."

After Elijah Hughes made a 3-pointer to put the Orange (7-3) ahead 39-28, Old Dominion went on a 13-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Goodwin that tied it at 41 with 10:19 remaining.

"We made a couple of adjustments (in the second half) but it was more about the players' mentality, playing with toughness and being strong with the ball," Jones said. "We stuck to the script a little bit better. We got the ball in some, it was hard to do, but we got it into the high post and were able to manufacture some baskets from there."

Syracuse pulled back ahead and led 50-46, but a jumper by Godwin and a 3-pointer by Ahmad Carter put the Monarchs on top again. Syracuse went ahead 53-51 with 4:15 to go, but that was the Orange's last lead of the game.

Three foul shots by Stith and five straight points by Green extended the Monarchs to a 59-53 margin with under three minutes to go. Six points by Stith down the stretch sealed the upset.

Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 23 points on just 5-of-14 shooting. Hughes had 15. Oshae Brissett had just nine, going 3 of 11 from the field.

Syracuse shot just 33 percent from the field for the game and 8 of 22 from 3-point range.

For the Orange, the offensive struggles were familiar. But something new was added against the Monarchs: missed opportunities at the foul line. Syracuse missed 12 of 34 free throws.

"We're not making anything," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We missed so many key shots. Playing at home, you have to make those shots. You can't miss 12 free throws."

Syracuse closed on a 12-3 run to take a 33-23 halftime lead. Battle, who scored 13 in the first 20 minutes, accounted for eight straight points during the run.

"We have to focus on every free throw," Brissett said. "We're a good free-throw shooting team, but we just haven't been able to find it the last two games."

BIG PICTURE

Old Dominion: The Monarchs are flying high. Six straight wins and a huge comeback at the Carrier Dome give Old Dominion momentum heading into its matchup with in-state rival Richmond.

Syracuse: Frank Howard isn't himself and Syracuse won't go far if its point guard doesn't contribute.

CENTER OF ATTENTION

Syracuse centers Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe accounted for zero points and seven rebounds.

GREEN WITH ENVY

ODU's Green entered the game hitting 38 percent from 3-point range. He was 3-of-4 Saturday.

DESPERATE TIMES

Syracuse will be desperate for a win over No. 14 Buffalo on Tuesday. A defeat would damage the Orange's NCAA Tournament chances.

UP NEXT

Old Dominion travels to Richmond Wednesday.

Syracuse hosts Buffalo on Tuesday.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Winners of two straight, Richmond plays host to Oral Roberts to try and get a third consecutive victory.

The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, have lost three in a row and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they visit the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m ET and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

Oral Roberts at Richmond How to Watch

What: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Richmond Spiders
Where: Robins Center, Richmond, Va.
When: 4 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder)

Oral Roberts at Richmond Preview

Conference: Summit League (Oral Roberts), A-10 (Richmond)
Record: 3-9 (Oral Roberts), 4-5 (Richmond)
Last Game: 80-64 loss at Missouri 12/7 (Oral Roberts), 82-47 win vs. Coppin State, 12/5 (Richmond)
Leading Scorers: Emmanuel Nzekwesi, 15.1 ppg (Oral Roberts), Grant Golden, 19.9 ppg (Richmond)