I knew I'd have to write about a Syracuse loss eventually but I didn't think it would happen at home against a rebuilding Pittsburgh team. On Saturday, the Orange fell to the Panthers 82-72. Syracuse's team motto this year is "Team Shut It Down" and they often wear t-shirts donning the motto during warm-ups. Well, they're going to have to give those to Pittsburgh. Pitt's defense held Syracuse to 42% shooting from the field, an abysmal one of 13 from three-point range, and held them 16 points below their season average.
In the first half the pace favored the Panthers but Syracuse never trailed the entire half. Both defenses were playing well and Pitt couldn't break the 2-3 zone. But Ashton Gibbs hit four of six three-pointers to account for all 12 of his points in the half and Jermaine Dixon added 11. The two guards accounted for 23 of Pitt's 27 points and kept them in the game. Syracuse led 30-27 at the break.
The second half was dominated by Pitt. They moved the ball extremely well against the zone and had 19 assists on 23 field goals. It's kind of surprising that they were able to move the ball so well without penetrating the 2-3 zone much. They had almost no inside presence and lived on the perimeter. Their three starting guards accounted for 57 points as compared to four points from the starting backcourt.
Syracuse made a slight push when they went to a full-court press midway through the second. They cut a nine-point deficit down to two with 11 minutes to go but could get no closer. Pitt answered with a 14-3 run and controlled the pace until the end of the game.
The two big reasons for the loss were three-point shooting and
whistles. Syracuse hit one of 13 three-pointers including one for six
from Rautins. He had his worst game of the season when they needed him
most. He was hoisting up some awful shots which killed any
momentum Syracuse had.
I don't mean to knock this Pitt win but the refs definitely played a factor. They were trigger happy with the whistles and that hurt a much more physical Syracuse team. Pitt has no inside presence so a less physical game plays to their strengths. Syracuse was called for 18 fouls in the second half compared to 12 on Pitt. But the blame must be placed on Syracuse because they weren't able to make the adjustments to compensate for the way the officials were calling the game.Syracuse must regroup following a close game with Seton Hall and this loss to Pitt. Big East play is just beginning and it won't get any easier from here on out. How Syracuse comes back from this loss on Wednesday against non-conference opponent Memphis will be telling for how the rest of the season might go.
Game Notes: Wesley Johnson led the Orange with 19 points . Kris Joseph was second in scoring and led the Orange in rebounding adding 10 points and nine rebounds.