SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- After receiving news that may blow its chances at a return trip to the Final Four, Syracuse nearly blew its game against Virginia Tech.
Gerry McNamara scored 26 points as the 22nd-ranked Orangemen avoided a third straight loss with a lackluster 76-64 Big East Conference victory.
Before the game, Syracuse (14-3, 4-2 Big East) learned that starting guard Billy Edelin is out indefinitely due to personal reasons.
Edelin was suspended from the school two seasons ago due to a sexual misconduct charge and had to miss the first 12 games last season after playing in an unsanctioned winter league. The school indicated this absence was not related to an NCAA violation.
Edelin, a sophomore, is the team's second-leading scorer at 14.4 points per game.
The Orangemen bolted to a 25-6 lead and led by as many as 21 points in the second half before the Hokies (8-10, 1-6) rallied to cut the deficit to 53-47 with 12:45 left.
Hakim Warrick had a pair of baskets in a 10-0 run that pushed the lead to 16 points and put away Virginia Tech, which has lost five straight.
McNamara's groin injury suffered in a January 20 loss at Seton Hall hampered him in last Saturday's 66-45 loss to Pittsburgh, the lowest point total ever scored by Syracuse under Boeheim. The sophomore guard looked more like his usual self against the Hokies, drilling six 3-pointers and adding five assists.
"Gerry had a good week of practice, he was very aggressive tonight," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.
Demetris Nichols, a 6-8 freshman, got the start in place of the 6-4 Edelin and collected 12 points and eight rebounds. Nichols scored 29 points in his previous 11 games.
"We wanted to go with Demetris because we wanted a bigger lineup," Boeheim said. "He did a nice job defensively. I thought he did some great things."
One area where Syracuse struggled without Edelin, who shoulders some of the ballhandling duties, was with turnovers. The Orangemen had 20, despite being ahead the entire game.
"I thought the first half of the game, we were very good moving the basketball," Boeheim said. "I thought the only negative thing was the turnovers. We made some uncharacteristic turnovers."
Freshman Jamon Gordon scored a season-high 21 points and Bryant Matthews added 18 for Virginia Tech, which met Syracuse for only the second time in Big East play. The Hokies are 0-3 against ranked opponents.