In a game that featured several runs from both teams, Syracuse’s 22-4 burst early in the second half was the decider, powering them to a 74-63 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. That run not only halted a streak of 11 straight points from the Panthers (12-6, 2-3 ACC), but it gave the Orange (13-5, 4-1) a lead that would never be smaller than nine points over the final ten minutes.
SU blistered the nets in the second half, hitting 58.3 percent from the field after the break, and hit a dozen three-pointers in the contest. That strong shooting helped offset a shaky rebounding effort from Syracuse. The Panthers held a 44-37 advantage on the glass, including grabbing 18 offensive rebounds, which they turned into 17 second chance points.
The Orange defense was stingy, amassing ten blocks as they held the guests to just 33.8 percent shooting in the game. SU also forced 17 turnovers on the day, including snapping up eight steals.
Pittsburgh had the first run of the day, stringing together eight straight points for an 11-7 lead with just over six minutes elapsed. Syracuse replied with their first run of the day to take a lead they would not give up.
Oshae Brissett hit a three from the left wing, then drove in on the left side for a lay-in and an Orange lead. Frank Howard swirled in a triple from just off the top of the key, then passed to Buddy Boeheim, who rattled one home from the right wing. Boeheim’s trey capped an 11-0 run and built the SU lead to 18-11 at the midpoint of the opening half.
The Syracuse offense cooled off, failing to score for nearly four minutes, but the Panthers could only get a pair of baskets in that time. That offense then found its groove again and the Orange added eight more points to their side of the ledger.
Boeheim swished a three from the left wing, then Tyus Battle swished one of his own and added a long jumper from inside the arc. In under two minutes, SU pushed the lead into double digits for the first time at 26-15.
Pitt owned the remainder of the half, though, closing with nine straight points to trail, 28-25. The Panthers tacked on the first score of the second half to get within a single point.
After nearly six-and-a-half minutes without a point, the dam burst and Syracuse flooded Pitt. In the next six-and-a-half minutes of action, the Orange unleashed a 22-4 run triggered by a dozen straight points.
Elijah Hughes and Howard hit back-to-back threes to start things off, then Battle added a jumper and a back door lay-up for a 38-27 lead. Battle then fed a cutting Paschal Chukwu on a pick-and-roll and the center slammed the ball home, forcing the Panthers to take time out down 13 points.
Following a Pittsburgh three, Hughes cut back door for a slam and Battle hit a pull-up three to push the lead to 15. The Panthers got a foul shot to fall, but Battle added another three, then made a steal and went the distance for an emphatic dunk and a 50-31 lead.
The guests worked the lead down to 14 in less than 90 seconds, but SU scored seven of the next eight points to make it a 59-39 game with under eight minutes remaining. Pitt needed less than two minutes to halve that lead, ripping off ten straight points.
Syracuse responded with a transition dunk by Brissett and another three from Boeheim, reinstating their 15-point lead. Pittsburgh would quickly work the margin down to nine points, but four straight scoreless possessions doomed them, as their next score brought them within ten points with barely a minute to play and SU held on from there.
Tyus Battle led all scorers with 22 points, pouring in 15 after the break. Buddy Boeheim came off the bench to add 13 points, hitting four three-point shots for the bulk of his production. Oshae Brissett had 11 points and three blocks while Frank Howard chipped in with ten points. Paschal Chukwu had a game-high 11 boards to go with three blocks.
Jared Wilson-Frame led Pitt, hitting five triples as he scored 19 points. Xavier Johnson was the only other Panther in double digits, finishing with 17 points. Trey McGowens, Sidy N’Dir, and Au’Diese Toney each chipped in seven points.
SU will cap this brief two-game homestand on Thursday, when they welcome Miami to the Carrier Dome. The Hurricanes (9-8, 1-4) have struggled since the start of conference play with three of their four losses in the ACC coming against ranked foes, including an 85-76 loss against #13 North Carolina Saturday.
Miami features a balanced offensive attack, as five different players average at least 11 points per game. The top scorer for the Hurricanes is Chris Lykes, a 5’7” point guard who averages 18.1 points per outing. Dejan Vasiljevic is the ‘Canes top outside threat, having connected on 48 threes at a 44.0 percent rate on the season and Ebuka Izundu leads the squad with 9.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
Syracuse knocked off Miami on the road last season, 62-55. Howard had 18 points to lead the way while Brissett posted 16 points and a dozen rebounds. Lykes paced the hosts with 14 points.
Thursday’s tip-off between the Orange and the ‘Canes is set for 8:00pm Eastern. The game will be available on television in certain local markets and that telecast will also be available online at ESPN3.com and through the ESPN app.