A quick take on Syracuse’s 72-49 rout of Pittsburgh on Wednesday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: After Ryan Murphy’s 3-pointer with 5:55 left in the first half pulled Pitt to within 24-19, the Orange responded with a 9-0 run to go up 33-19 with 2:37 before intermission. Elijah Hughes then hit a 3-pointer and a jumper as part of a 7-0 run to open the second half, and Syracuse put the game out of reach early as they took a 44-26 lead with 17:00 remaining. The walk-ons made a cameo with 42 seconds left, and Brendan Paul hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded as the Orange won its second straight to keep its precarious NCAA hopes alive. SU won easy dispute losing Buddy Boeheim (who went scoreless) in the first half to an ankle injury.
ANALYSIS: The win was SU’s 16th on the season, meaning that even if they lose their remaining three regular season games and their ACC Tournament opener, the Orange will still be postseason eligible because they’ll finish no worse than 16-16. But on the optimistic side, even though Syracuse isn’t listed on ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s current bubble, they are still in the ‘under consideration’ list. If Syracuse wins out against Boston College, UNC and Miami, and then wins a pair in the ACC Tournament, that would move them to 21-13 on the season and also back into NCAA tourney consideration.
HERO: In Syracuse’s first matchup against Pitt in January, Elijah Hughes slogged through a 4-13, 10-point outing. The ACC’s leading scorer had no such issues on Wednesday, scoring a game-high 25 points on 8-15 shooting. Joseph Girard III (15 points) and Bourama Sidibe (13 points, 10 rebounds) also starred.
ZERO: Pitt came into the matchup the ACC’s worst outside shooting team, shooting a touch above 30 percent from beyond the arc. The Panthers stayed true to form against the Orange, shooting 29.1 percent from the field and 6-26 from 3 while turning the ball over 17 times.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange hosts North Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 4 p.m. in Syracuse’s final regular season home game. TV: ESPN.