The depleted Syracuse basketball team dropped their second straight contest on Saturday afternoon, falling to Pittsburgh on the road, 65-55. The #6 Orange (18-3, 6-2 Big East) continued to be without James Southerland and also had DaJuan Coleman on the shelf due to a surgical procedure, an injury that is expected to shelve the freshman for four weeks.
The remaining seven scholarship players for SU wilted in the second half, allowing the Panthers (18-5, 6-4) to outrebound them by a 23-9 margin in the final session. Syracuse also had another rough day on offense, connecting on only 36.7 percent of their field goals, while the Panthers made 48 percent of their tries.
The two squads traded scores in the opening minutes, but three consecutive successful trips put the Orange on top, 12-5. Pittsburgh responded with a 9-2 run to wipe out the SU lead.
Syracuse posted four straight points to retake the lead, but the Panthers ran off seven straight for a 23-20 lead with less than five minutes until the half. The Orange knotted the score, then the two teams traded shots until Pitt took a 27-25 lead at the intermission.
The Panthers stretched their lead to six in the opening minutes of the second half, but SU hung around, eventually knotting the score at 35 just over seven minutes into the half. Pitt scored the next six points to grab a lead they would not relinquish.
The Panthers then stretched their lead to nine points with under six minutes to play. The Orange whittled the margin down to 50-45 with 4:25 to go, but could not get closer. Pittsburgh stretched their lead out to 12 at its greatest point before settling for the 65-55 final.
C.J. Fair led the Orange with 20 points, making 9-of-13 shots along the way. Brandon Triche had 14 points and Michael Carter-Williams had 13, but the two combined to make only 7-of-26 shots. Carter-Williams and Fair each had three steals while Rakeem Christmas blocked three shots in the game.
The Orange face a quick turnaround for their next game, as they are hosting Notre Dame on Monday night. The Fighting Irish (18-4, 6-3) have righted the ship after a rough start to conference play and are carrying a three-game win streak into the Carrier Dome. The action starts at 7:00pm and the game will be televised by ESPN and available online at ESPN3.com.Jim Stechschulte (Follow on Twitter @dsafetyguy)