A quick take on Syracuse’s 72-61 loss against Pitt in SU’s ACC opener on Wednesday night:
WHAT HAPPENED: After a pair of Trevor Cooney free throws gave SU a 59-58 lead with 3:54 left, Pitt responded immediately with a 10-0 run highlighted by a thunderous Sheldon Jeter slam off a steal. Jeter single-handedly propelled Pitt to the win, scoring seven straight points during that run. By the time Tyler Lydon hit free throws to stop the run with 47 seconds left, Pitt led 68-61.
ANALYSIS: The tale of the game could be boiled down into two statistical categories: Free throws and rebounding. And Syracuse was badly beaten in both. The Orange was just 16-25 from the charity stripe compared with 14-19 for the Panthers, who shoot over 80 percent collectively as a team on the season. And, as has been the case all season, and will likely be all year, rebounding hurt the Orange. The Panthers held a +17 margin on the glass, including 19 offensive rebounds. That doomed the Orange, which lost despite a spirited effort on both ends of the floor. SU shot 43 percent from the field, while holding Pitt to 6-23 from downtown.
HERO: Jamel Artis and Michael Young combined for 29 pounds and 16 rebounds, punishing the Orange inside. Jeter finished with 11 points, and headlined a bench that outscored the SU bench 26-5. Cooney continued his good shooting as of late, hitting 3-5 of his attempts from downtown for 15 points to go with six rebounds.
ZERO: Gbinije had a rare off night, uncharacteristically missing opportunities around the basket. He was also one of the main culprits for SU’s struggles from the line, hitting just 5-10. Lydon was non-existent on offense despite playing big minutes for SU, displaying a general disinterest in shooting. He shot the ball just three times, and finished with five points and four rebounds.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to play No. 13 Miami on Jan. 2 (2016) at 2:30 p.m.