Syracuse squandered a double-digit second half lead, losing to Pitt at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday. Here are the key takeaways from the loss:
Syracuse’s late game magic finally fails
We had seen it a few times already this season in wins over Bryant, Buffalo and Northeastern.
Syracuse struggled to shoot from 3-point land throughout the game, which resulted in a nail-biting finish to games. During those three games, Syracuse had just enough to finish on top.
The streak finally ended on Wednesday. This time, the Orange’s 14-point lead against Pitt at half wasn’t enough when the shooting went cold.
Syracuse jumped out to an 11-0 lead to start the game but shot just 5-17 from downtown in the second half. Pitt never lead in the contest until 5 seconds left.
With eight seconds left and Pitt down one, a Au’Diese Toney tip-in layup gave the Panthers the lead. Syracuse had eight seconds to get all the way down the court. They called a timeout with five seconds left but Marek Dolezaj threw the ball behind a cutting Buddy Boeheim which led to a Syracuse turnover.
Pitt hit two free throws, leaving Syracuse with only 2.8 seconds and needing a 3 to tie. With Pitt pressuring the ball, Alan Griffin was forced to take a half-court heave which back rimmed as the buzzer sounded off.
Syracuse had finally run out of their last-minute magic.
Syracuse can be two very different teams, and it all depends on their shooting
We have seen two different teams from game to game this season as far as shooting the ball goes, but Wednesday was the first time we saw it in the same game.
Syracuse came out shooting well after the long Covid break and was up 18 with 4:02 left in the first half, led by Griffin and Boeheim. SU finished shooting 9-17 before intermission.
At the break the narrative completely changed for the Orange. Syracuse got outscored 45-28 in the second half, and went 5-17 from 3. Once the deep shot would not fall, the offense went stagnant, and SU curiously continued to launch freely from downtown.
“We need to do better and it is 100 percent our fault,” Syracuse forward Marek Dolezaj said. “We need to rebound the ball better and stop shooting too many threes.”
Quincy Guerrier is Syracuse’s X-factor this season
Quincy Guerrier has been the one consistent piece for the Orange the whole year. That is, until Wednesday.
Guerrier was in foul trouble almost all game, and played only 17 minutes, finishing with four fouls. Robert Braswell filled in admirably, and had a career-high on 4-4 shooting from 3 and 12 points, but it was clear Guerrier was missed.
Guerrier had come in averaging 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, and finished with just 3 points and 5 rebounds. Had he stayed out of foul trouble, he may have helped SU on the offensive glass more.
Syracuse is getting back Bourama Sidibe at the right time
Originally, center Bourama Sidibe was listed as healthy for Wednesday’s game.
But he didn’t ultimately play because of discomfort in his knee, which has already forced him to miss a month of action. SU certainly could’ve used him, as it was -16 on the glass against Pitt.
Even with Pitt’s best player, forward Justin Champaigne, missing the game, the Orange was still outscored 28-12 in points in the paint.
SU is hoping that Sidibe returns to the level he played at during the final six games of the 2019-20 campaign, where he averaged double figures in rebounds. His return would also allow Dolezaj to return to his more natural position at wing.