A quick take on Syracuse’s 73-59 win over Pitt in the second round of the ACC Tournament:
WHAT HAPPENED: After trailing 36-30 at halftime, Syracuse found its offensive rhythm in the second half to essentially clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Orange rode a personal 8-0 run from Buddy Boeheim to a 43-39 lead with 16:26 to go. Though Pitt tied it at 43 shortly after, the Orange went on a 9-0 run capped by a Boeheim layup to make it 51-43 with 11:50 left. The Orange was never seriously threatened from there as it survived a game without its leading scorer Tyus Battle, who was forced to sit out with a hip injury suffered during Saturday’s loss to Clemson.
ANALYSIS: For the first time in four seasons, the Orange will not need to sweat out Selection Sunday. The win boosted SU to its 20th win, and paired with 10 regular season ACC wins plus three Quad 1 wins, its resume should land them at the very worst as a nine seed in the upcoming dance. If Syracuse can beat Duke for the second time this season in the quarterfinals, the Orange can continue to move up in seeding, and perhaps avoid a potential matchup with a 1 seed in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
HERO: Making just the third start of his career, Boeheim made up for the absence of Battle by leading the Orange with 20 points on 6-13 shooting from the field and 3-7 from downtown. Elijah Hughes (18 points) and Frank Howard (17) also picked up the slack, as SU shot 12-27 from beyond the arc (they shot just 32 percent for the regular season) and 43.4 percent overall. Paschal Chukwu stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, six blocks, nine rebounds before fouling out.
ZERO: Outside of the shooting of Jared Wilson-Frame (24 points on 8-16 shooting from 3-point land), the Panthers couldn’t muster much offensively. Everyone not named Wilson-Frame combined for 10-39 shooting, including Xavier Johnson’s 2-12, four point, four turnover performance.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse has a date with third-seeded Duke in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 9 p.m. in Charlotte. TV: ESPN.