A quick take on Syracuse’s brutal 63-60 loss to Pitt on Wednesday afternoon at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse squandered a double-digit lead in the second half, and Au’diese Toney’s offensive rebound and put back layup gave the Panthers a 61-60 lead with 8 seconds remaining. SU called its final time out, and coming out of the break, Marek Dolezaj was nearly called for a five-second violation before his errant pass was intercepted by Xavier Johnson with three seconds left. He hit a pair of free throws, and Alan Griffin’s missed desperation 3-pointer sent the Orange to an embarrassing loss. Things looked very different in the first half, with the Orange jumping out to a 32-18 halftime lead.
ANALYSIS: The Orange started fast and faded quickly. While the final box score shows that the Orange shot 31.8 percent from downtown for the game, that doesn’t account for SU’s hot start, where they shot 7-19 from downtown in the first half. By contrast, SU finished 5-19 after intermission, and continued to rely on it down the stretch to their detriment. With Bourama Sidibe practicing, but ultimately not playing, the Orange was also hurt on the boards, surrendering a -16 margin to Pitt. Part of the reason for that was Quincy Guerrier, SU’s top rebounder, who was saddled with four fouls and played only 17 minutes.
HERO: Robert Braswell played extended minutes because of Guerrier’s foul trouble and Woody Newton’s lack of practice time during the COVID-19 pause. He was 0-12 from 3 to start the season, but came alive, single handedly keeping SU in the game with 4-5 shooting from downtown for a season-high 12 points to go with 5 rebounds.
ZERO: While Kadary Richmond has showed plenty in his freshman season, Pitt was the first team to truly expose his weakness: Outside shooting. Richmond was shooting just over 20 percent from distance heading into Wednesday, and he went 0-4 with the Panthers practically daring him to shoot. Buddy Boeheim also continues his struggles, hitting just 3-12 of his shots, and 2-10 from downtown.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts Georgetown on Saturday at 8 p.m. TV: ESPN2.